Ham Bag

I no longer miss my mother daily. 
Now it’s only when I see something like this: 
a calico bag for baked meat 
(to keep, cure & preserve) 
that I hear her ask 
Ready to go? Got your hambag, darling? 
and I say 
Yes, Mum, all the better to put my ham in 
and we’re beside ourselves again. 

Shared Lines

you turn
to blink back
The Dream,
tripped by something
you can’t put your finger on.
The line’s dumb slack
is taken up
by a girl at the back.
Last year,
her Dad died.
She knows the sudden
need to cry.
she hides you
under two dropped iambs.

No No No

The old lady in the bed opposite you 
has dementia. Her eyes were brown, 
but cholesterol has haloed them blue. 

Most of the time, she lies 
like a vague angel, speaking 
only memory and mimicry, 

but now she wants to go 
to the bathroom and has forgotten how 
or that she is not allowed. 

No, no, no she howls when told 
she must use the bedpan or soil her nappy. 
She says toilet and take me and please— 
I can’t go in the bed, Mum. 

She is a nuisance to the nurses, 
must be held and hoisted. 
Her arms bruise like bad apples. 

She struggles and struggles 
until it’s over, then smooths 
her blankets down, tremorous, 

look at us,says, 
Thank you, darling, thank you, dear. 



Johanna Emeney is an Auckland teacher and poet. She is working towards a PhD at Massey University.