Whitby Writers Group

a self-help writers co-operative


Tupaia was a knowledgeable man.
Artist with the keenest eye for detail.
Linguist well suited to converse with
folk from distant lands.

But primarily he was a wayfinder,
able to sail across the trackless ocean.
Among his people it conferred on him
a kingly status.

Wayfinders used oral lore passed down.
They could draw charts, make astrolabes,
employ the currents and the wind, and stars,
read the flight of birds.

One day a vessel from another world
made landfall on his isolated island.
Strange men appeared, with strange materials
they traded for food.

He begged the aliens to take him with them
before they re-embarked to sail away.
The voyage of a lifetime, one from which
he would not return.

He drew maps and charts for Captain Cook.
With his keen eye he drew the captain too.
He so impressed the Maoris they gave him
a rich dogskin cloak.

He accompanied Cook’s expedition
throughout the new lands that they chanced upon.
But, docked for repairs at Batavia,
he fell ill and died.

Why forsake his homeland? Never to see
the islands he was born in, nevermore
look upon the faces of his people
pay court to his queen?

Why not forsake his homeland? An artist
longs for new things to draw; a linguist
new folk to converse with; a wayfinder
new ways to explore.

Ian Clark
2016, 2019

%d bloggers like this: