Visiting the urupa, with
ancestor-photos clutched under arms,
there was weeping
at the broken tombstones,
the swallowing earth.

We had walked across cow-rutted fields,
some holding children’s hands,
the elderly aunties with their walkers
to where the land was
taking back the graves.

It was beginning to be autumn:
leaves were yet to blow up the road,
there was just a stillness under the sky;
the power-lines edging
the dry fields of corn.

Weeping at the untended graves,
I’m flung back
to that Cornish cemetery;
to my father’s grave,
his final resting place.

One day I will wipe
the mown grass from his headstone;
leaving him there, far
from his mountains, his father’s sky,
away from his cows, lost to his fields.

Sarah Penwarden

Listen to Sarah reading ‘Karanga’ (1:09).


Sarah Penwarden is a therapist and counsellor educator based in Auckland, New Zealand. She has had more than 40 poems published in various literary journals in New Zealand and Australia including Poetry New Zealand, Turbine, Meniscus, Southerly, Quadrant, and tākāhe. She has had short stories published in tākāhe, brief, and a story broadcast on Radio New Zealand.

© text and audio 2020