Dreaming in New Zealand
and would all were as I am wont
to hear here: sex, a quest, great grail,
for I hear seeks, with no sweat spent
to search that isn’t sweet, as every
beck and call’s both song and beak
with which to hold our tune. Winter
wears her well-earned warrior’s clothes,
a season wearing thinner, wetter,
colder, but still and ever green, here—
she’d not leave her leaves, not shed
what’s hers though the southerly
tried and tries to whistle them away.
And since this is my comedy
of ears, in one and in the other’s
fate’s to trip again, I’ll claim:
the body is both bread and breed,
as words well said are planted seed
and grow so where we tread is treed,
where each line read remains the reed
on which the note is played when pressed
to lips, mouth, self-ordained as priest,
weds wed to we’d and weed and so
with word grown one forever as even
the dead remain in deed, wound round
and round in these wet sheets of wind.
Listen to Dora Malech read ‘Dreaming in New Zealand‘
It is, of course, the middle of your night.
I lie on my back and imagine us lying back-to-back.
As hemispheres have it, we are.
My shoulder blades are almost up against yours.
The soles of our feet are almost pressed together.
Only the world is in between us.
In your morning, you sweep up glass
where a dove mistook a pane for nothing at all.
In my evening, I hear the call of a stitchbird,
endemic, endangered (extinct on the mainland),
previously thought to be a member of the honeyeater family,
recently revealed to have no close living relative at all.
It is the only bird known to mate face-to-face.
Its Maori name is ‘hihi,’ meaing ‘ray.’
(‘Hihi o te ra’: ‘sunbeam.’ ‘Hihi kokiri’: ‘x-ray.’)
‘Hihi,’ pronounced one giggle, not two greetings.
for the perversion of clemency.
I have held the envelope up to the light.
clouds the color of the night sky cover
most of the night sky, and the remaining
This is one of many pet projections,
I admit, to fancy the fires
with a single sleepy sentry
not unlike myself.
no vessels, no beasts.
Actually, exactly like myself,
flash back, at last, a hopeful signal.
The less I can identify the constellations,
Call it cathexis, a false positive,
or New Moon, another name
I have tried to compose myself.
When the coroner handed me the watch,
it stopped at the time of or still telling.
I live by the fault line, infirm firmament’s
bows one way and the other, opens its cones
first for rain and then for flame,
my mark, where the live wood healed
to a black love knot, proof of conscription.
to axe the hatch and burn the last
bridge at both ends. Perhaps
Instead, I practiced casting shadows,
flat stones in the hope of the day they find
for a patient anthropologist
to teach me how to be myself again.
spend all day decomposing. No
if you get my drift rather loam and sleep
ever after. She loves me or she loves me not says Susan
shut. On one greeting card the yawning
some of the nicest people. I don’t speak lightly when I say how
bounce back. Dirge of bluebell and fiddlehead
as even a nod-off
all in one place? Lily to lily: what’s your favorite apostasy? Perhaps I asked
rather pinch the heads off at the stem. Just in case dress for a funeral.
the messengers who never claimed to be our bright ideas. Last will
are you going to eat that? Here comes the little engine chuff chuffing on its last
hearts eaten out over the curtain down and always waiting
a baseball season. I’ll go ahead and cry if that’s my thing. When I said can’t miss me
enormous purple flowers but even that
are produced in summer
by large, brilliantly colored bracts.
an endless eddy
splashes back at the hem
of the spillway’s skirt,
churns a froth
of sticks and milk jugs
and Styrofoam and soccer balls
and tarp and plastic bags
over and under
in a current bewitched
to vortex, backflow.
The river cannot
it cannot let go,
is low today
and seems unable
to part with anything
at all. On the bridge,
a woman wears
a gray blanket
and yells in no one’s
The passersby part
to flow around her
body without touching
her body or the beggars or
their skinny dogs but stop
to turn and lean over
the guardrail and gawk
at the river’s newfound
collection and speculate—
The contents of a wind-struck
campsite or trash of a more
northern town dragged
downstream, gathered here
through confluent accidents
of weather, water.
Or some impractical
the bouncing balls
of a lunatic lottery,
composition, ever un-
still life, inconsolable
and constant star-crossed
of awkward orbits, collisions.
The passersby watch
for their favorite pieces
of flotsam to pop up
again and then do
what passersby do
The hungry dogs watch
their hungry masters
who watch the possibly
and the woman stops yelling
at no one to look up
at no one, reach
beneath her blanket
and touch herself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dora Malech convened one of the MA Writing for the Page workshops at the IIML this past year. She has found New Zealand to be an incredibly inspiring place in which to live and to write. She will miss the people she has had the honour to know and work with here — and she will miss the place itself — very much.