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Photography: Sarah Reed
Sue Wootton

Sue Wootton lives in Dunedin, where she writes, and is raising 3 children. Her poetry has been published in various journals and magazines, including the NZ Listener, Poetry NZ, Turbine, JAAM, Bravado, Takahe, Poetry Aoteoroa and North and South. her first collection of poetry is to be released in October 2005 by Steele Roberts

for Rachel

These blue rivers that braid our calves
that silt up behind our knees

these creeks knotted with a double bow
this blue tapioca under the skin

these hydrangea petals stuffed in our veins
these clogged deltas, burbling swamps

this blueberry compote – who asked for it?
Was this the something blue

we signed up for when we married? Those days and months
spent waiting for babies – turns out we were queuing

for squidginess, not theirs (adorable) but ours (knobbled).
Turns out we wear our worry beads on top of our strength

(that explosive muscle which can also just stand there).
Turns out someone, probably a male, will strip them,

a little flaying of the flesh before dinner,
a few jokes that go over our comatose heads -

these blue rivers unplaited, deflated, unjammed,
these boggy backwaters diverted to a bigger scheme.

O! for legs as smooth as pylons
to stride over difficult terrain.

retail therapy
for Arlene

In Wellington you discovered your inner bitch.
You also held the hand of a fat black woman

and your inner bitch did not bite it.
Perhaps this is because

the fat black woman so needed you
as she rose wobbling on the skinny silver

shoe-shop ladder to reach the topmost box
containing the perfect pair of kitten heels

(and when would you be wearing those
in Central!) and you so needed her

to fetch the box of silly dreams
to ease up the lid, admitting

the fresh leather fragrance of sin
to fit them with her plump black hands

around your pink and yellow farmer’s feet –
she teetering, leaning on you, you sturdy

but with the possibility of teetering now so close –
you gave her your hand. Your inner bitch

subsided. You just loved her.
You could have stayed in the shop for hours.

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