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Mary Cresswell
New Zealand

Mary Cresswell is a Wellington poet who lives on the Kapiti Coast. Her book of satiric verse, Nearest and Dearest, is being published by Steele Roberts in mid-2009.

Captain Cook called them the Happy Isles and we stayed at the last resort, all mod cons, grass shacks on
the beach, swimming, diving, kayaking, all laid on.
I said nothing as we paddled into the mangroves. Crabs clambered up the tree trunks, scattering mud with
their claws. It’s time to go, you said, it’s time to go.
I looked around us again. The air was still and black as the water. Vines dragged on the surface, their tips
floating as the tide rose from beneath.
Away in the distance, the reef boomed.
I let my fingers drag in the water. I felt a breath of current. At the end of the river was the open sea, the
light and the wind and the clatter of pandanus leaves.
A spider the size of my hand dropped from the trees, landing in the swamp with a splash that shocked us
both. Two crabs began a frenzy, claw and carapace quarrelling in the silence.
One crab stopped and changed direction. The other dropped into the mud and sank still, only its eyes
showing. I leaned forward, gripping my paddle as hard as I could.
When the water was still again, I steadied the kayak and followed the river current to the sea.
I got to Farewell Rock and looked behind me. The river mouth was invisible, and the birds passing
overhead were white and gold, a kind I had never seen before.
Long after they disappeared, I could hear their cries.