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Footnote to John ii.4


Don't throw your arms around me in that way:
    I know what you tell me is the truth—
    yes I suppose I loved you in my youth
    as boys do love their mothers, so they say,
    but all that's gone from me this many a day:
    I am a merciless cactus an uncouth
    wild goat a jagged old spear the grim tooth
    of a lone crag . . . Woman I cannot stay.
   
Each one of us must do his work of doom
    and I shall do it even in despite
    of her who brought me in pain from her womb,
    whose blood made me, who used to bring the light
    and sit on the bed up in my little room
    and tell me stories and tuck me up at night.


John ii.4 (King James Version)
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do
with thee? mine hour is not yet come.


“Footnote to John ii.4” has appeared in a number of anthologies including  An Anthology of Twentieth Century New Zealand Poetry, edited by Vincent O’Sullivan, Oxford University Press (1970).

The poem  is reproduced in this massive work—624 pages—celebrating New Zealand poetry, although Mason is not one of the 25 poets whose work is specifically reviewed.


Along with "On the Swag" it appears in Spirit in a Strange Land: A Selection of New Zealand Spiritual Verse edited by Harry Ricketts, Michael Grimshaw, Paul Morris, Godwit / Random House, Auckland (2002)