The Snug Country

It was enough for most,
the well-tailored sleeve of a nation
pulled snug over these narrow shores.
It was a kind of satisfaction,

the well-watered gardens,
row on row,
the native ferns without the natives,
the Chinese lanterns slung from eaves,
without the Chinese,

the rounds of the Plunket nurse,
the wife on her hands and knees,
scrubbing the porch.

It was enough for most,
The triangular pen
of pub, rugby and race day,
(bets under the table made the blood rise)

the missionary position,
the starched laundry,
flags over the sacred quarter acre,
short back and sides,
the hair parted with a comb.

And if it wasn’t enough,
then there were sharp eyes,
and faces ranged like corrals,
and rumors mobilized like armies

against the dangerous question,
the irregular habit,
the un-pressed collar.

And for the very stubborn ones,
of which there were always a few,
artist types, the degraded boheme,

there were certain
more robust therapies,
in the depths of those gothic houses of joy,
guaranteed to instill the best qualities
of a well-tailored nation.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014