my parents planted my placenta underneath a pōhutukawa who barely grew. who wilted, whined, and self destructed. who at ten only came up to my knees. they had hoped for a grand thing. what they got was pitiful. barely a stick. dad did all he could, sometimes making a two hour drive to our old place just to give that pōhutukawa water. at ten i thought, he should just let that thing go for christ’s sake, pathetic and clinging on the bank. i wanted to hurl it off the tutukaka cliffs. it embarrassed me. my tree without the balls to die.
people talked about the pōhutukawa in hushed voices. but, how is it really doing? i took another chocolate from the bowl. they looked at me and shook their heads. one christmas i got so sick of it i yelled, oh come on now grandma, it’s just a fucking tree, so dad hauled me outside while i kicked him blue. he didn’t look at me as he carried my tantrum through the garden, past the blue shell paddling pool, past the feijoas. i screamed. in a red hot something i desperately wanted to hunt guava moth together. look at me dad, i pleaded, but he wouldn’t and so i kicked harder.
in the bath i saw myself ripping that suffering tree right out the ground and holding it in the air all screech and shudder, its deceitful roots no longer eating away at my placenta like piglets. that tree was shameful. i was triumphant. i stood to see my naked reflection in the mirror, pink and porcine. i grabbed my hair in my fist and yanked.
my placenta killed the tree, eventually. in winter when the thistles were neglected and bruised the paddock in purple blights, when white growths came in erupting fungal stars, when jellyfish threw themselves en masse onto the stone beach like martyrs. the air was too heavy for fire and the fish n’ chip shop closed at three—outdoor tables turned upside down and tied with ropes. my tree couldn’t hack it, died complacent, dropping its twigs in the muck with a shrug. good riddance, i thought. dead sticks were nothing. i snapped them.
dad carried me through the garden and put me in the dirt. quit whining. he said. dad waited til i did. dad reached into his back pocket and his hand came back in a loose fist, cradling something. he held it up to my face. he opened it. something escaped. time. he said.
now we hunt the guava moth.
you’d always wanted to be married on a wharf
not because anyone was worthy of a marriage
but because the lace of the dress could become
the sail of an idle-along or an optimist and you
would glide in on a pretty cream skiff of youth
past the mouth of the bay with shandy in hand
the dots slowly forming some funny loved ones
everyone waving in sunhats and their best togs
and the oysters along the beams painted silver
so sweating you’d go up the crusty ladder each
rung a risk onto a glittering catwalk and march
that long wooden aisle as if walking the plank
put on the sparkling top / more of a scarf
tie it at the back / leave room for a slip
keep ’em entertained / my breasts are conical but no less miraculous
place the princess tiara in your carpet of hair / glacé cherry
scoop purple glitter from a pottle / slap it in the general direction of your eyelids
grab the pink lip gloss / uncooked meat colour / slap it on like you’re taking it off
grab a can of hairspray / another handful of glitter
unzip your fly and decorate your crotch / a shimmering pubic crewcut
warm beer / latex pants / sweat migration from ass to sock
lick of the hand to wipe sweat from the armpits / sniff of the hand
wash of the hand with the rest of the warm beer
throw the can with an ‘ughmrf’/ yell for another
summon the bassist / ugly fucker / rollie in hand
jump up onto the chair and yell in pig latin / vocal warm ups
watch him skulk off / let him grizzle / why do women hate me?
jump down / let that glitter cling on for dear life
hear the faint jeering of old punk rock men / with their emancipated daughters and their divorces
/ desperation to be hip / inability to vote hip
let it make you feel things / undefinable / unidentifiable / raging things
crack the hot pink strat from its beaten up case
sling it over your back / adorned with a sticker that says NEONATAL ANAL ANGEL
swing open the door / yell, c’mon cunts, time to rip ass!
cascade the C major chord through the venue / like the virtuous chime of God
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Having just completed her MA at the IIML, Hattie is now working on her first little book of poems. Previously published in great places like Starling, Landfall, Takahē, the Spinoff, Mayhem, Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook, and Rat World Magazine.