Buckets of bleach sit at the root of the apple tree.
Infected from the base, its fruit rings vibrant to tease death on the tongue
In between my toes, oozes brown blood of the whenua.
Release the buzzing creatures that chase me down the drag
Taking me in, then under
On to te awa
There it lay rushing down its current. Lines ripped from us
Up rise the obscured, who repel my skin.
Back past the blood, buzz and leaves.
In the body of the river lie spirits of the unseen unforgotten
I, up and awake
set my shoulders tight.
to touch the wai is to disrupt their rest
I keep my hands to myself
The split between us and Waipoua is a twisting rod of black
we seek its touch on compressed days
I must keep my hands to myself
We were taken up the tributary to where our taniwha lies.
Whipping her tail, holding her head still.
If our lungs fill with her water, there our spirits lie.
Distilled, absorbed by the mist.
It came for her children, once, twice, and a third.
Dispersed and drifted away.
Until she held her cloak pinned them to the whenua.
A mothers only task is to hold the child and bid it not to turn.
Hold you above the rising swell.
But you cannot be blamed for thrice over,
it swallowed them.
With a sadness that emptied the world
she turned to the stream.
Surrendered into tethered tongue,
by silence brought forth the breath of the bless’d children
She waits on.
To hold them tight in her head,
body and flicking tail
then there is my body / contained in a damp cage / swirling, and scattered is my wairua / rotting at the spine / a region dolorous / shields a dwindling fire / it only knows / dark / in between cracks she slipped in / wrapping her body / twisting, whipping and tight / swollen at the hip is an inverted head / bearing its unwelcome teeth into my whare / unsettled / she sinks deeper by stone / each pull loses grip on slippery scales / she is mistaken / found / left / we have each other / returned / we soften our bones in the river / soaking / detaches herself to explore the depths / I will float here until my spine calcifies
today, she is needed / one day, she will return to her twins / and know not to come back.