Greenhills Far Away



First I lurch above the Vauxhall
Velox, parked by Greenhills Store.
Behind it looms the woolly flank of
Omaui Hill. My horse swoops
towards Bluff and its warehouses
and ships, a long blue finger of
Foveaux Strait poking towards me.
My sisters and brothers scream,
the music screeches, my horse
lurches, up and down. Round to
the wastelands, the peat bogs, the
brown lagoons. To the purple hill-
bumps up north.

And back to the beginning. The
ride on Bill’s merry-go-round is
free and it’s long. It does slow in
the end, it sways to a stop. Us kids
jump off. Dad’s legs unwind from
his horse. He staggers a bit. He’s
gone green.

Bill gives each of us an ice cream.
It’s the new exciting variety of the
summer, Lagoon Blue. This, he
says, is the first blue ice cream
ever. It’s not the colour of the
lagoons round here. Neither is it
blue. More like lurid green. 

We lick the ice creams, our tongues
and lips going green. The ice
creams do not melt. The air is too
fresh. Sub-antarctic gales scour
these parts. Manuka bushes bend
double in the hollows. And the
grass beneath is forever green.



Eric the Red wanted to persuade
settlers to come to a land of ice. So
he called it Greenland. The people
of the North call it home. Larry’s
home was at Greenhills. On our
first date we climbed the stairs to
the dress circle. We sat in the best
seats, frozen with shyness. Before
us played scenes of people making
love, giving birth, dying, always
squatting on snow. The film told us
that Eskimo has no word for ‘to
make love’. Larry and I had no
words at all when the man asked
his guest, ‘Will you laugh with my 
wife?’ In those days we were so

Room with a View


In the mirror my old self is fading
under a crown of two repeating headlands;

on my left side a tree
just outside the window is

muscling in, while Cook Strait
slides beside my head.

I’m weighed down by a
swarm of wooden houses

over my right shoulder;

beside my eye
a plane is landing


Barbara Strang was born in Invercargill, the eldest child of ten. She has lived in Sumner, by the sea, for a long time, with ‘three children, two pear trees, and a pile of rotting timbers’. She completed an MA in Creative Writing in 1998, specialising in poetry.