teeth can be heroes


although my father returned from the war 
with just two teeth 
he used them like a full set 

although every winter my great grandfather 
wore stone teeth it was the Vikings 
who rolled them into battle 

although the Tudors placed warm hare brains 
on the gums of teething babies 
mice ran the black market for milk teeth 

although back in 1948 Kay carved 
a full set of pumice teeth 
the film archives still show her doing this 

although my mother played tricks with her dentures 
it was the undertaker who glued her lips 
then vanished with her teeth 


the cataract brothers


for years the muslin clouds 
of the cataract brothers 
manipulated his vision 

he missed words faces 
small numbers the direction 
of incoming light 

this morning the ophthalmologist 
throws his hat in the ring 
to open the wings 
of an artificial lens 

to call back first twenty 
then eighty percent 
of all that was lost 
until he sees the desert 
where the sun steams a red fez 

and the halo around 
the very small name 
of the milliner 


pacific wave


I make a skirt 
from a Pacific wave 
and name her 

I gather her waist 
at the muliwai 

in prevailing winds 
I fill her pockets 
with sound drowned valleys 

I sew her buttons 
parallel to the coast 
and wash them free of sediment 

when the ocean rises 
I use herring bone stitch 
to release every fish 

when the ocean is turbulent 
her fabric is distorted 
this is when her parchment hem 
becomes the hull of a waka 

and she carries us 
to Cape Reinga 

the place of leaping 
where we both wave 
as the ocean carries her home 



Kerrin P. Sharpe’s first book three days in a wishing well was published by VUP in 2012. Her work appeared in Oxford Poets 13 (Carcanet). Another book, there’s a medical name for this, has just been released by VUP.