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faith wilson


Begin in darkness and end in light.

End in darkness and begin in light.

End in the white snow-covered town in remote Canada.

Begin in the sun of Manitoba in summer.

Somewhere in between there’s the grey of Wellington’s winter.

And in other places not the beginning, middle or end

just everywhere, around and in between,

there’s the cry of new beginnings/endings

there’s the slow crunch

which sounds like walking through snow

but is the heart breaking and repairing

there’s the sunburnt body

whose skin flaking could be the snowflakes

gently amassing until they’re imposing

there is the boisterous laugh of boozed boys

in the bar in the morning

there are the imagined awakenings

the anticipation of peace

and maybe sometime there would be the derailing

the closing and the opening

the eyes that open to find the body they sit in

naked and shivering while snow falls around

and the sky folds and unfolds, tessellating.


when grandpa died, grandma shifted
house and we all went to New Plymouth
to help her unpack boxes and make her new home
look old enough to feel lived in.

i sat on the floor, unwrapping ornaments from newspaper
and grandma sat with me as we placed them in a cupboard
made of wood that you couldn’t see inside.

there was a teapot that she said she’d give me
or one of my other girl cousins and i thought that would be nice
but the idea of wanting something that would only come into possession
after someone’s death felt wrong.

and yet when you died grandma, i thought about the teapot.

i thought things like that, in the end, were important.
those rare and expensive objects, the ones you’ll pass on, and on, and on.

as you were in the hospital, dying, we stayed in your house.
dad wept as he noticed the cardigan draped over the back of a chair,
ready to be worn again on your next outing.
the half-done crossword, a few used tissues you’d not yet placed in the bin.
a shopping list, a few dishes in the sink.

i wandered around your house, opening drawers, smelling your things.
there was a bottle of perfume that reminded me of you, white linen.
i sprayed myself with it, so your scent would be on me.
and i said, if there’s one thing that i would like, nothing huge,
just your bottle of half-used perfume.

when you passed they saved a few things, and cleared the rest,
and my aunty told me the perfume had expired, so she’d thrown it away.
i should have said i love the smell of old things, just as I should have said
i love you more often when you were alive, grandma.

i was away when they cleared your house and though i would have loved
to save some of your things, i would rather have saved your smell,
your laugh, the way you sang your songs, and told us off…

when someone dies everyone talks about the importance of memories.
and of course they are important, because they are all we have.

but if i could bottle your little quirks grandma,
just to smell you once again, hear you,
tell you i love you, then i would.


I can fly.

                      If you look up you can see me…

I am in my Nana’s kitchen, just floating.

                     Looking down i can see...

                                    Nana making panikeke,

                                    the hot oil splashing up and spitting lightly on her face

                                    my cousin CJ eyeing up the crispy golden balls

                                    Kavik sniffing around for scraps on the floor.

It might look strange to you,

                                                 seeing a young girl floating while her family go about their day

but we are different.

The past and the future are always with us.

                                    And our dreams happen while we are awake.

I lower down and scoop a panikeke sprinkled with icing sugar into my hand

and savour the crispy edges, the gooey banana.

                     The sweetness lulls me to sleep, i touch the lobes of my talingas to soothe me

Nana swats a fly

I can hear Mr Whippy making his way down the cul-de-sac

I’m fading into dreams.

                     When I wake up my feet will be painfully aware of the ground.

                     When I wake up I will forget that I was born in three places at once,
                     and that I was born in a dream.

                     When I wake up, it will be 27 years before I remember how to fly.

Faith Wilson is a Samoan and Pākehā artist and writer from Aotearoa/New Zealand, currently living in Fernie, Canada, on the land of the Ktunaxa people. She has published in many local and international journals such as Poetry Magazine, Runway, Sport and Ika and completed a residency in Winnipeg, Canada with Chris Kraus in 2017. She has written for galleries Enjoy, Ramp and Blue Oyster.