Special Sundays

On special Sunday's, Uncle Hone cut down a dried eel
from behind the old black stove,
wiped the fly blow and dust off with a wet mutton cloth
and cooked it for lunch.
MMMmmm a delicacy.
Sometimes cooked in milk, and sometimes fried,
always on the old black Shacklock.
The rimu smoke drifting up and out of our whare.

He always hung our biggest eels behind the stove to dry.
Mind you, the very largest eels we caught were from the big drain,
the one that ran from Lockhart's orchard, past the Bidios family farm
to Te Puna beach.

He had told us never to fish in that drain,
but we knew that the very biggest eels were to be found there,
and so they became the victim of our flax knots and bacon squares.
they tasted beautiful.

Later, years later, I was to learn that the Rahui placed on the drain
was by Uncle Hone's own whanau.
His uncle had shot a British soldier, and the mate had fallen into our drain
to become the kai of the largest of eels,
that we boys hung amongst the painted silver enamel
behind Auntie Rama's stove.

©Mike Subritzky

Maori words:
kai = food
mate = dead body
rahui = ban on an area
whare = house