Hirawani, fearless warrior
who promoted good relations
between Maori and European,
stares at me
impassively from behind the glass.
His feathered cloak and mustache
delicately worked in pencil grey.
Captain James Cook hangs on
the other side of the door,
understanding the weight of historical responsibility.
Bernard, with his red rimmed clear blue eyes and white mustache,
greets me explaining, with slight apology,
that he is the youngest resident.
Still in his sixties
he served at sea.
They had desperate times
and he treated a fellow sailor's broken leg
by cutting it right off.
He showed me the clock in his room
then a second in the corridor.
"One, two, three, four, five, six.
They are exactly the same,"
he said in hushed tones,
as if personally responsible
for this extraordinary occurrence.
I examined his artwork flanking the door,
and showed him his name
inscribed at the base of the pictures.
"They must have given them to me,"
he replied nodding.
He told me he was sorry
his wife was not able to stay with him.
She had to live somewhere else.
The room was small.
There was only space for one bed.
Possibly a sailor.
Definitely an artist.
I will never forget our meeting.