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Thorndon, Wellington

After we moved away, I often thought about the park. I thought of how I used to practice rolling sideways down the hill. I thought of grass stains on my elbows and dirt beneath my fingernails. I thought of sitting on the seesaw licking the pink icing off hundreds-and-thousands biscuits.

This must be the place where I first saw her name. It was printed in yellow letters on a signpost next to the slide.

If I could, I think I would tell her that I like the park best at dusk in summer, looking at the green hills looming above. I would ask her if she remembers it like I do—the moon rising and shapes collapsing inside their own shadows, birds flinging themselves out of the bush, calling out to each other in the dark.



She would teach me how to apply winged eyeliner
in a moving vehicle.

She would write long, passionate texts to her high-school crush,
then screw up her eyes and ask me to press ‘send’
quickly before she changed her mind.

She would let me borrow her vintage coats,
her bright silk scarves, her oversized sunglasses
and her Frida Kahlo socks.

When I’m in the middle of a break-up
she would come over when I can’t get to sleep
and we would sit on the floor eating Russian fudge
watching documentaries about serial killers.


once we’d saved up enough money
we would go see the cherry blossoms like she always wanted to
and drink chrysanthemum tea beneath the moon
and we would climb mountains that look
just like the mountains in Chinese paintings
and we would sit on the cliff edge
eating mangoes out of our hands
dangling our feet into the clouds


then we would move cities / then countries / at the beginning we would write / then we wouldn’t anymore / but sometimes I’d get an email from an unknown address / (subject line: MAGNOLIA FLOWERS) / and then we’d collide / by a river in Shanghai / or on a crosswalk in New York / and we would spend one sunburst afternoon / running through art galleries / watching dogs at the dog park / taking pictures of each other’s / shadows

the years would pile up / and she’d get harder to find / but I would always remember that one New Year’s Eve / when we were young / when she decided not to turn up to her own party / sneaking out instead to light sparklers / and swim naked in the cold sea / white-gold fireworks / exploding like lightning / in the sky over the harbour / lights blooming in her eyes

Nina Powles is from Wellington. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Girls of the Drift (Seraph Press, 2014) and several poetry zines including (auto)biography of a ghost and Underwater Dreams. She recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, and was the 2015 winner of the Biggs Family Prize for Poetry.