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Photography: Sarah Reed
Cherie Barford

Cherie Barford was born in 1960 to a German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. She grew up in West Auckland in the days when Te Atatu Peninsula had gravel roads, rabbits running over farmland and a working class community. She is an ex-school teacher and currently holds the position of Coordinator for the Waitakere Adult Literacy Centre in Henderson Valley. Most recently published in Snorkel, Fugacity, Trout 12 and Whetu Moana, Cherie performs poetry with enthusiasm here and there, from time to time.
kawakawa  (the pepper tree)

aka the pepper tree

favours the coast

its heart-shaped leaves
excite our
salivary glands

and when wilted
over a fire
release oil
for the tending
of boils and gonorrhoea

the scent
in steamy baths
is an aphrodisiac

(some say)

the plant mimics
a hormone
juvenile insects
can’t resist

they flock to it

munch holes
through branches
of swaying green hearts

creating a new garden


there’s nothing much left
of the beauchamp garden
katherine’s sister tended
in the cotswolds

the hellebore collection
the cherry trees
that once filled baskets
are gone

there’s just a bed
of lilies-of-the-valley
beneath a shed

and a red peony
seeding itself
in glebe fields

creating a new garden


in my new garden
children paint immortals
sliced from plastic sprue
with a modeling knife


their brushes sucked
to a spittle-lacquered point

nudging high-elf bowmen
from chariots to storm citadels
almost lost in the grass

threatening to dwarf
the twirling clothes line

a centre point
for banana and nikau palms
tongan taro
with elegant black stems

fijian hibiscus
bold enough to catch eyes

and a yellow
chinese lantern
planted for light

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