SARAH JANE BARNETT
You were hurt, she says. I was running towards you but the forest floor was moving. He hands her the scissors and she cuts out a tiny bird traced onto cellophane. They pass the time making model trees from newspaper. A twisted trunk is stapled to a puffy canopy. As she tells him about the dream he frowns and begins to talk about New Zealand’s native daisy. The largest in the world. Leaves so soft they’re used for toilet paper in an emergency. He has never seen it, she thinks, but there it is. Her tree is tall and branching. She has used the colourful fashion pages for the leaves so they bloom with poised limbs, dresses and high heeled shoes. What would you do if you found me? he asks. She tries to remember. Her first aid training has decomposed. Tip the head. Manipulate the airways.
When he was released from Stalag Eight B he sold shoes. He races along country lanes. He races the wind as it pounds a disorganised rhythm, the beat rattling his car window and flushing vermin from the fields. She attends to the day: buys one packet of almond crème biscuits in a pastel embossed tin. She traces the bubbled harvest scene. She moves the floral settee under the bay window. She moves it back. She finishes the last crossword. When he returns dinner has passed. They climb the scrubby heath to the highest point, away from the dense regiments of trees. He draws a constellation in the air, the striking horns of Taurus. We’re getting on, she says. He sings into her hands, his voice slipping away between her fingers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Jane Barnett is a writer and tutor who lives in Wellington. Her work has appeared in a range of literary journals such as Landfall, Sport, Takahe and JAAM and on the e-zines Blackmail Press and Snorkel. During 2006 Sarah completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is currently working on short-story-poems and a series of poems about being executed. You can find out more about her at The Red Room.