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Modi Deng

Tell me

I. Tell me
that funny story again. The one where I laugh in spades
and your voice wobbles as you speak
but you keep your cool. Better that than
the emptiness of falling through
memory, a thief through a skylight
stealthily, clumsily –
your voice keeps me here
as I listen, ae-o, ae-o, aeolian harp.

II. I was away, once, with salt tequila lemon
tying my tongue to sparkling water.
Distance comes with pretending you can cook
and the early mornings of slow, open fields. Quick, spin
your skirt around so the lady won’t
see you desecrating Beethoven’s
piano with your fingertips.
Eyes, your hand, sun, in mine. Lose yourself in
impulse buys, second-hand Faust, neon zines
and feeling, feeling you could die
here in this beautiful museum:
’twere now, ’twere then.

III. My favourite moment is when Moses
asks to see God’s face in the Bible.
It must be a basic human need, to search
and search unwarranted. I want so much to fill out sound
with my limbs and being,
my voice disappearing up the top
like a Slavic song.
But finding myself beset by questions, by
doubt that colours poetry (bleeds life)
I can only yearn, unresolved
young beyond my years.


Put my hand on your chest, a
gypsy-hungarian-dance, offbeats
flexing your toes. Teach me to
say things Matter of Fact,
how to open up, let go. Show me how to wrap
perilla leaves in rice
wave the empty way Giselle’s
lover passes through her ghost arms, till at last their fingers
catch, their legs an arabesque
crescent around the other. Finding themselves
if only as night breathes its while

Modi Deng is in her second year studying piano and English at Auckland University. She loves languages, attending too many concerts, and Alice Munro’s stories.