You are not the river of my birth
But on your way home
You touched my heart
And now my feet, free from their native soil,
Are growing tender roots into your lovely banks.
Flanked by my dogs
I pause and watch you flow beneath.
I see a shoal of fish –
Dancing in river green –
Turn into river birds
In the reflection of the native trees.
A Tui sings nearby.
The voices of Maori men
Float through the autumn air
As they discuss some native plants.
Their rolling r’s remind me
Of my Southern German home.
Waikato – River of my heart.
My roots are drinking of your water.
Your soil, your sun, yours sounds
Are home to me.
The dogs are getting restless.
Let’s go, I say, let’s go.
Beate Jones, a Bavarian by birth, lived for seven years in Munich, where she studied English and French at the Ludwig-Maximilian University, before following her New Zealand husband-to-be to Hamilton, New Zealand. She has been living in Hamilton ever since. While her first impression of Hamilton, after having lived in Munich, was not entirely positive, the city and its people, like the river Waikato, have wormed their way into her heart and these days she feels very protective of her elected home, which she feels offers some of the best possible compromises of living a city life in an almost rural way.
Beate has been teaching German for more than 20 years at the University of Waikato. She is currently enrolled in a PhD in Literary Translation at Victoria University in Wellington. Writing poetry, short stories and the translation from German to English of a range of texts have been an interesting and challenging sideline to her work.
The poem Waikato was written after one of her walks by the river, which take place almost daily and provide her and her two border collies not only with the necessary physical exercise but also with the beauty and the meditative quiet the Hamilton Gardens and the river walks can provide at any time of the year and in any kind of weather.