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Henrietta Bollinger


I have never broken a bone.

I gift this to you, yet another half-thought,
handed over for safe keeping.

Lying here, my scoliosis spine
makes me shorter than you.

I have never fallen off a bike
none of the usual childhood injuries.

We curve around each other, loving, not lovers
but still, holding on and being held –
a privilege – 
knowing you will not let me fall.

I break other things these days,
making up for lost time, I suppose.

You take my hand where
my heartline runs deep and fractured,
you hold and then, let go.

Girl, a word.

Girl, I’m not in the middle, of things. I’m not sitting stranded, 
my sense of space has never been expanded so unwillingly.

I can’t even say I followed the debate. It seems to be how we operate,
day to day your sometimes-words just slide my way.

Girl –

There are many things I could fail to say eloquently.

 Like Girl –

You come from ‘one of those nights’, 
you are a moment that went right, 
you are an act of love.

But you’d just tell me
‘people fuck’.

Today you are hiding in your coat pockets
and I am concerned about eloquence.

To the woman who bought me my first mojito

For Michelle

You have to explain what it is
and then, you basically have to teach me
how to drink it. I feel young, despite
my flash red coat, the new ID in my pocket
But your laugh – warm, fiery cadences –
tells me there is space to grow in all directions here.

On the mic tonight you made me feel I was her already: 
the poet, the one I thought I was still
looking at from a distance.

The way you say it: Mojito, makes me think
of the first poem I heard you read,
part American English, part Spanish and a dash of something from here,
 a searching for space, a gentle excavation, the way of our trade. 

And for tonight I have arrived where I need to be.

Henrietta Bollinger is an intentional poet/playwright and an accidental sociologist – sometimes the other way around. She lives in Wellington.