And you thought those Canterbury hills were barren

after Rebecca Hawkes’ cover ‘Meatlovers’ 

but the moon is lush tonight, hanging between the veins
of the settler’s shadow, a plump coral ball
softening the sky, swarming with the swing
of a carcass of beef, the tentacle swim
of the flowering aloe into the night;

and the gelatine shine of an axolotl’s tail –
the sperm-watcher for the lovers here, sucking
each other’s face, a tunnel of green and pink
flesh between them, this blasphemous union
open for the night;

female beasts in red-band gumboots, tangled
on the rump of an oxen, her breasts
dripping for the feast laid before them,
the grey rabbit beneath, virally-stripped of meat,
her eye still prey to the night;

a feast of pomegranate, a womb
of red seeds, wide open as the slab of blood
red steak beside; do not forget the pavlova,
smothered with the seedy halves of strawberries,
the sticky jugs of the Venus-traps,
and oh the chops.

Hey, tuahine


You told me I’m Māori
and that muscle leapt,
since I’ve always sought belonging
in the bones of the hills,
like your kind do, but
really, I came from
someone else’s idea, the other
bone people who travelled across the sea
and overlaid your ancestral land
with their own hopes
and guns and heartache, I write
Pākehā on the forms,
my pen quivering and my mouth open
to feel the heat of what springs
from your Kurangaituku under my feet,
this volcano of rage and grief she rides,
generations long I have taken to heart
like some forgotten Godiva on the side
of a cobbled street, horse gone missing,
though my hair is a long tangle
of mikimiki and broom,
naked, my ears fill with your stories
and my white bones on this whenua quake
because I am not you,
but something longing in between.


Gail Ingram is an award-winning writer from Ōtautahi | Christchurch, author of Some Bird (SVP 2023) and Contents Under Pressure (Pūkeko Publications 2019). Winner of both Caselberg and NZPS International Poetry Competitions, her work has appeared across Aotearoa and in Australia, Africa, Asia, UK and USA. She is a creative-writing teacher, and editor for a fine line and Flash Frontier.