The cliff sprang from the sea at end of Hostel Beach,
If the tide was out you’d reach a tiny bay beyond
The cape without wet feet, an easy stroll but too effete
For blood as hot as ours. We watched it at full flood;
A risky place to contemplate the games we planned,
We walked the sand a dozen times, looked up the cliff
And bragged how we would climb it to the top (it was closer
To the village shop where we could buy the local wine).
A modest cliff, perhaps 100 feet in height, a daunting sight,
Waiting there confronting us each day. I’d thought about it late
At night when lights were out, it didn’t seem a challenge worth
A dare, I’d climb it on my own unless a taker mad enough to make
The effort worth a pair was volunteered. My plan was bare, climb it
Straight with no descent (just too insane), then stroll the mile that
Rambled back and bask in fame of bearing wine. So how could I
Decline the madness of the time, a dread impulse that shed all care;
Kate had said along the way let’s climb the cliff the tide’s too high
To safely make the sheltered bay. We’d planned to write our poems
There, a cove which might ignite ideas although I hoped she’d share
A creature comfort moreso than a verse and lift me from my dreams.
That others came and climbed with me had settled schemes of
Adult games with nubile Kate, alas a fate I’d learned to take.
But Kate, she never made it to the top, we didn’t stop,
We climbed like ants with frenzied need and never noticed that
She’d fallen by the way. She didn’t die and wasn’t hurt and yet she watched
And wrote a verse that saved her passing grade; it was her anticlimax
And our humiliation, she received the jubilation of our writer’s clique
While we had cuts and scrapes and tender knees to show our deeds,
And in some way I knew she’d never need to try to write again.
1964, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, during a two week English Intensive.