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sophie van waardenberg

january at the bloemenmarkt

                                                                                                                                      I am melting
through the flower market                   folding
             neck and hands             around the few who bloom
                                                                             in the snow.                              all I want is to fall in
   the canal underfoot.              water runs faster than this air
                                          and you are not here and                                    I am wearing your socks.
am I doing it right?                   on the wall seed packets:
                                          van gogh and sunny girl and happy generation
     blooming photographed           as if the sun is lit up now.                             I cannot
figure out where my                               body starts but the cheese
             is grinning at me                   from its pleasant window
across the street                                                                                               and if there were time
       I would shoulder                               through bicycles
to buy a yellow wheel                                           and call it yours.                                                   and
                                                      if there were time I would                          become beautiful here
shine so loud                                             you could hear me                                                wherever.

if you cannot draw good pictures

cut off the hands of the parent you can’t remember
and then maybe you’ll remember him – how
in the evenings he would stretch, close
the door behind him, jog into the trees in shorts
from the eighties. cut off his feet and by making less
recall more. the tradescantia flower tonguing his nose
as he knelt to kill it and the mosquitoes always
angering above the elbow. place a new sheet
of paper over the face you cannot build
and you might understand how the heart worked,
how it slipped your brother, your mother, your aunts,
the clumsy botany, the kind and the wrong,
the robbed grey ford at cornwallis, and
the you inside it like salty liquorice snatched
and saved for later. draw a line from his shoulder
to his shoulder and maybe he will stand up straight,
empty his pockets of lint and sleep, take you in.

i only took one photo of switzerland

is it still this morning we are living in
where we woke up with our single duvets pulled shut on us
hoping our skins would become soft by the cotton we wear?
it is difficult in three layers of clothing
to know where we sit on the globe.
having taken me so far without shutting your ears
you are my only friend.
you make the slick peeling of mandarin segments
sound affectionate. you give me the bigger half.
I am tired of talking to you
through the thick wool of my wordless love.
I make you slow with my bad stories. I make you slow
with my apologies. help me with my hat
and I will lend it to you soon
to keep the rain out of your hair
if you kiss me there
on that clean train station floor tomorrow
without phone reception – if you let me take your suitcase
though I will bruise it with my desperate care.
I want the best – and all for you – and what I can do at this dark table
is peel the white strings off the mandarin half
and nearly kindly feed what is left to myself.
it is still this morning and I don’t know the shape
of switzerland but it must be like one of these pieces.

Sophie van Waardenberg is currently completing her BA (Hons) in English at the University of Auckland. Her work has also appeared in Ika, Signals, Takahē, Mimicry, and The Spinoff.