Chornobyl Cinderella

I'd rather have an orgasm than get to work on time. This has got me

into trouble, but not pregnant, although I am a multiparous woman.

Check my cervix. It's a library as worn as Pripyat's abandoned shoes

with their run-for-your-life stories.

Reactor 4. The explosion. Nuclear fallout. Evacuation. Resettlement.

Pripyat is a vacated city. A ghostly imprint of miscalculation. Families

fled in coaches that didn't make U-turns.

Slingback vintage sandals beckon from rubble. Lure me with pale

nude T-bar straps. Eye me from peep holes configured like stars.

Who wore you? Where are you now? Did you find happiness? Love?

I do not pick up, cradle, finger the shoes. Just aim and shoot at artefacts:

broken masonry, fallen lights, supermarket trolleys. Capture sweaty

imprints of delicate toes and corroded leather on camera.

Imagine a woman fleeing an invisible enemy


* Note: Chornobyl is the Ukrainian form of Chernobyl

Serie Barford has a German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. She was awarded the 2011 Seresin Landfall Residency, was the recipient of a 2018 Pasifika Residency at the Michael King Writers Centre, and attended the launch of the Ukrainian translation of her Tapa Talk collection (Huia, 2007 and Krok, 2019) at the 2019 Arsenal Book Festival in Kyiv. Serie collaborated with filmmaker Anna Marbrook for the 2021 Different Out Loud poetry project. Her poetry collection, Sleeping with Stones (Anahera, 2021), has been shortlisted for the 2022 Okham New Zealand Book Awards.