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Photography: Sarah Reed
Jane England

Born in Christchurch, Te Waipounamu, Jane has lived in Paris, Samoa and the Middle East. An MA graduate in CW from Victoria University, she’s had writing published by Penguin (NZ) and Turbine.  She won a national award for short fiction in Samoa and previously, the NZ Media Peace Award and Qantas NZ Best Feature Writer Awards.  ‘Between Ourselves’ was written about a loss in 2002. ‘From Inside’ is a recent poem.  Jane lives in Qatar in the Middle East with her husband Samson Samasoni and their three bubbly boys.  

between ourselves

I’m writing this because although I’m
sure you’re one of the best interns in
your year and I’m terribly sure you 
meant awfully well and as you say
- coming from Kent - Kent is certainly
better than Manchester which, as you
say, has changed but is still quite weird. I
must say it was very interesting
to meet you even so briefly and
perhaps they train interns to say things

like that for I’m sure you meant well when
you asked at what stage I lost her and
when I said: “thirty-three weeks” and you
said: “the only comfort is some things
are just not meant to be,” I wanted
to ask – still want to ask – what did you
mean?  What ‘thing’ precisely was not meant
and by whom and how and when? Who – I
want to know – decides such things?   

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the fault
is hardly your own – imagination
not being a thing they would encourage at
at medical school. And there has been a long
history of cold comfort in the race we both share.

But bear with me a moment as I’ve 
had to bear with you. Somewhere between
us there’s a mother cuddling her new-
born and her new-born is shedding new-
dead skin and the mother that is me
wakes and screams and bleeds because the skin
that is shed is mine and the organs
exposed are mine and later I will
face it again. Cold blades that cut through
my anatomy, that operate
and dissect and try to force a re-
covery. Could you take that back to

Manchester?  Tell them about words that
leave organs exposed, the biggest rips
in the smallest portions of skin.  I
guess if you look at it clinically,
some things are not meant to be and you
perform deliveries so very

perfectly. Swaddling substance in warm
smiles but underneath there’s a body
lying still. A voice quietened; the
colour already blue.

from inside

My mother’s purse smells:
tweed perfume pig skin,
pearl-press steamed 
handkerchief embroidered
letter ‘E’.  Stone agates -
Birdling’s Flat, shell cat’s eyes -
Ripa Island, camphor wrapped
sentimental tear, quirky
recipe: “Do write dear”. Pattern
fairislye, lay-by card, chalk
teaching.  Three post
office savings books.
Her children.

My father’s pocket rumbles creek
laughter snow mountain river rapid
tweed oilskin laughter,
cigarsmoke billy tea hunting
rifle ski laughter.

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