Moth Argument


The five year old says to the four year old
don’t smack the moths.
The four year old says to the five year old
I only hit the big ones.

The five year old says
if you hit the moths they die and their
children will die.
The four year old says
moths don’t have babies.

The five year old says
they can’t have babies if
you kill the mummies and daddies.
The four year old says
I only hit the bad ones.

The five year old says
there are no bad moths.
The four year old says
there are.

The five year old whispers
there are no bad moths.

Taking Your Time


At the grave it wasn’t possible
to sway your casket completely in
because the plot had been dug just a
little little for your little frame. And
then, perhaps because all mothers tend

awkward moments by offering some
help, my mother—your nana—took a
a watchful breath and asked whether we should
all just pop home for a cup of tea
Then we’d come back, of course, after the
digging had been done. And because child-
ren don’t know much about holes that
need to be filled, the boys stood and raised
happy balloons for you, their sister.

The council man was carefully clipp-
ing that small divide between paddocks
and graves. A competition of stinks:
cattle turds and everlasting rest.
Taking a shovel, said he’d only been
following his plans, but look love,
it won’t take long. And there it was, what
children know. How the end is more and
short is long and little is big. For

when it came time to lower you down
stars were brimming from the rim of the
earth, balloons bursting out of the skin
of the sky. After which, we all popped
home for a cup of tea, well-deserved my
mother said.


Jane England was born in Christchurch in 1960 and is a graduate of both Canterbury University in Christchurch and Victoria University of Wellington, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing in 1997. Jane has been a journalist and foreign correspondent, and is now working on the last draft of a novel derived from a short story published in the anthology Penguin 25 New Fiction (1998). For the last three years she has been living in Samoa where in 2003 she won the Samoa short story (English) competition. She recently returned with her family to Christchurch where she is now based.