Friday poem: All That Summer, by Tim Jones

There’s a lot of great kōrero in Wellington about climate change, but what could happen if that talk doesn’t translate to action? This Friday poem is a portal into our city’s future

All That Summer

All that summer we sailed the drowned isthmus,
Miramar Island bulking east. Diving
was an anxious wait for murk-filled water

to yield its occasional treasures, relics of better days
left behind as the frantic dikes were overwhelmed.
Out by the drowned airport runway,

the never-finished extension lost beneath us, we faced
long rollers carrying Antarctic meltwater northward,
braved the sudden southern chop and squall

to plumb abandoned warehouses, corroding cars.
So many days we returned empty-handed
to the boatshed on the Wadestown shore,

worked the elaborate locks with reddened fingers,
climbed the hill to short commons and mixed
parental signals of frustration and concern.

It was a life lived in increments of bad news, a
Government of bluster and paralysis, its authority
manifested in chain-link fences and pronouncements

no longer listened to on matters that concerned
only those sited most securely inland. At the water’s edge
the social contract washed away, replaced

by alliances more fickle than the weather.
And the sea still rose, icecaps converted to ocean
by generations of accumulated arrogance.

That was all before our time. What we knew
was the rising wind, swoop of storm,
slack and snap of sails, one of us waiting aboard,

the other diving the ruins of lives lived
in those final glittering years of denial
before the ocean washed all doubts away.

From Tim Jones’s latest poetry collection New Sea Land (MākaroPress, 2016)

Read more:

Sea level rise in Wellington

Sea it yourself: virtual reality visualisation

  • Image credit: artist unattributed. Retrieved from

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *