We were walking and discussing 
the architecture of our future 
home, though we didn’t know it. 

Autumn settled on the bridge 
of her lips and I couldn’t tell her 
I didn’t want to kiss that cold – 

I was never any good at caring 
for her when she was sick. 
I had to keep asking her to repeat 

herself because the wind would 
unwind her words before 
she was done with them. 

The garage of bones 
we walked past stopped 
that fight, at least. 

A wind rode by, and on it floated 
a convergence of dust. 
She took my hand to tell me 

dust is never just dust – oh 
daughter of archaeology, 
you should know! 

What I don’t care about astounds 
me. Bone compels – the crucial 
architecture, the fundamental structure. 

What I might hone into a powder, 
fold into a paper square, talk 
into a spell. That gritty midnight mantra. 

She was always more comfortable 
with the blood – her hands neat 
on a raw piece 

slicing away the fat, chipping out 
a rogue vein, tongue between 
her teeth. 

There are proper and improper ways 
to hunger – crimson was always 
her favourite colour. 

Somewhere in our future 
my spade chomps at 
something where I am turning 

over a vege garden. We keep 
chickens, she keeps an axe. 
I still prefer skulls – 

the elegant syntax 
of heads without their faces 
attached. Her fingernails 

are never entirely clean. 
What she cares about confounds 
me – I don’t remember 

most of what we’ve said 
to each other – just the shape of her 
lips settling on her words – 

maybe we should dig them up 
but then, where would we 
keep them? 


Other Places

My sister tans in the northern hemisphere. 
It’s hard to know what might have been erased 
with the paleness of her skin, 
what makes up this patina that’s replaced it. 

Her anaemic-marble cheeks spilt with warm 
Bordeaux. The blood of every lacquered Madonna. 
Giotto, Bartolo, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, 
Fra Angelico, Raphael, Parmigianino… 
There is a new oldness in her smile – borrowed shine. 

She’s seen the great cities from above. 
Terracotta tiled housetops spinning hazy with heat. 
Tidy kaleidoscope of boulevards. Brown river, big Ben. 

And below. 500 stumble-down steps nicked 
in the crook of a cliff. Leading to a world made entirely 
of flat black pebbles, green water and freckled 
fish unflustered in the sun. 

The vampiric depths of the catacombs, inverse city. 
The slick of midnight snow in Montmartre. 
Spring-green slam of absinthe. 

History without modesty, beyond beauty. 

Her old quietness has become contemplation. 
The sky making space around her, Vermeer-big, dense 
with every colour that makes up the grey 
of eyes that used to be 
so ordinary. 



Hannah Mettner is a Gisborne writer who lives and sometimes works in Wellington. She is one the the editors of Sweet Mammalian, a new literary journal. For further information, please consult her poems.