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Photography: Sarah Reed
Lydia O'Dwyer

meanwhile, I had that picture of you in mind

I had that picture of you in mind
all motivation in flairs
God, you were a flirt,
even the camera wasn¹t safe;
the black-lipped lens cover
your pirate eye eye,
those mad-man curls
the spare bare blue eye
undressing me while my parents fed the ducks.

Posie said you were a sheepdog -
all muscle and cock
not a pick on your bones then,
and now, they¹ll be wearing thin
six and a half feet under, me
watching cruise ships dump American prey
into the arms of the waiting economy.

That picture of you, in mind
when the lupins were in bloom
and smelled of coconut,
the broom tunnel was yellow
and I, a Plantagenet queen

morning room

lifts the curtain of day,
my husband¹s slow breath
falls and rises
the grey walls
the room alive.

My son coughs
rice bubbles
onto a soft blue rug.
The cat wakes
and yawns,
I see all her teeth,
a slit of saliva stretching
her hungry mouth.

The clock ticks,
by passes the alarm with a click.
I am soft and warm
as I juxtapose myself
onto this sharp
spring day,
my white flesh
startled by the rash
of a thousand goosebumps.

your place

Walking the road
to your place,
past the school house
someone I once knew
said they borrowed
a cup of sugar from you.
apparently, you both talked
for a long time,
you walked with your head down
looking less than straight.

I wonder where you find kina
but know I wouldn¹t eat them.

On the beach that day,
in no doubt
the siftings of driftwood
and sheer disbelief,
ready or untameable,
even love couldn¹t do it
nor hard edged imagination.

Which house is it again?
I won¹t disturb you.
tourists, they come and go
like bloody rabble.
I am also a real person.
Honest. I am.

You were short on the spoken-
let¹s not mince words.
I can write.
I can open like that.
I believe in the ability to survive isolation,
wake up calling it
a solitude that¹s intact.

You never showed
yourself turned up,
The Warehoue in Greymouth.
I bought your book,
Stood in the shoe isle
thought about the you I had
gathered from salty places.

we woke with only dream fragments,
holding onto
whatever treasures were salvageable
from the human deep.
The house slept on,
draped with sleeping bodies,
flung far in casual negligence.

We all walk in treacherous places
the beach at high tide
rock hopping,
snapping shut to the foot fall,
one wrongly placed step
and Tangaroa would have his way.

Near the end,
we dared Okarito
to greet us with open arms.
A Kotuku swam in mid air.
We were ready to be taken
by the bosomy spume.
Whipped by whitehorses.

in the blue bivvy,the womb pouch,
we listened to the rain
and you said I might love you.
Death does that, I said.
in the realm of personal darkness
its all the same to me.

Next time, check the tides,
carry a map,
dry clothes.
Some lives are based on
the elimination of chance
cut and trimmed
like edges,
eaten to within an inch of the fenceline.

Near your house.
I wonder if I could use
the cup of sugar routine again?

Who led the pack that way?
I did, I said.
I misjudged something.

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