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Juniper would have been
an excellent name for this, our blank
nebulous stare. Not for our valour,
but for the stand of barbed branches,
bits that found their way into the tender parts.
Evensong had settled, palmed
and tucked away along with all
our other red light thoughts.

Finally, the inky crease came.
Rifts broke out in tides over the phone
and our loss pointed its little finger
down into the cold throat of the plumbing.
Most creatures begin this way.
Enigma traces lines in these, our brushstroke seconds;
one, two, three, four, five.


At the entrance of this strange
tubular incision,
a narrowing of space
in our collective dank green
childhoods, I watched the long, open wound
wind into the ribcage
of an all-too-familiar hill.

At the age of eight I don’t really know
how to spell a word like ‘epiphany’
but nevertheless I am struck
by the sallow ripple of light,
as if below the sea
I were staring at the undertaker
pulling bodies out of the abyss.

The older boys
with clumsy hands
on their homemade hydro-bombs
pulled off the head of an albatross
on Whatipu beach
and played with it.
Such bold, ancient eyes talking
with their hands still stuck
in its mouth.

The girls protested against their use of rabbits.
The older boys knew a thing or two about ghosts.

In a tunnel
there is only so much space
and not enough light
to pick out shadows
from amongst the gravel
and chip packets.
I pass through the initial flinch
before dipping myself
into that deeper shade
of optical dusk.

Although the sea spray
couldn’t carry this far
it is carried here
with mountain-bikers,
their steady stream of urine
on the walls;
no one has thought to implement
a toilet stop yet.

The older boys with clumsy hands
on their hydro-bombs say
that new dead people
are born every day,
in tunnels.
They also say that
ghosts telephone
each other in caves
which I used to think
was ridiculous except
now that I click my tongue,
at the end of the tunnel
something else, covered in slime,
clicks back.

Natalie Morrison has just finished her degree in English and now works part-time in Wellington. She shares a flat up 165 stairs with five girls and a neurotic cat.