Raised Nubs

looking down 
to a patch of road-marked tarmac 
we watch balcony rungs 
make shadows 
more gaping than geometric 

you firm your thumbs 
through my belt loops 
tug absently 

for only forty minutes ago 
we were fucking 
partly magnetised 
mostly bored 

though in the meat of it all 
we thought in unison 

the sky is packing in 
I can see clouded dullness 
on your back 
can feel it on mine 

road shadows blur 
further into road 
and under it 
we are pressed 
together slowly 

we roll and smoke 
roll and smoke 

at dawn 
I walk to work 
along marked lines 

my hands force dough warm 
tuck seams under 
leave each bun 
trembling roundly 
as its neighbour 


and ginger-wine 
black clove specks 
thin flashes of lemon 
soak currants 
for tucking into pastry 

buns and eccles 
gloss under oven heat 
smooth bread tops 
split open 
milk and sugar glazes 
crackle on pastry 
hot currant juice runs 
and stains 

my hands shake 
as I sit on the toilet 
feeling at my rawness 
the last bit of your heat 

all morning 
I have been giving 
and now my body is cold 

we will take to the balcony rungs 
take it all down 
because three-dimensionality 
has become unnerving 

better to be flat like tarmac 
to project our bodies 
onto blank walls 

today I lose a finger 
tomorrow I will lose an eye 
in atomistic squall 

I can see you standing 
in uncut grass 
mouth cracked open 
into a sharp-toothed smile 
and then your lips disappear 

you are climbing ladder spindles 
you are climbing 
until there is no ladder 
you rise in fuzz 
in soundlessness 

and I roll and smoke 
but it comes out in clouds 
from my chest middle 
I breathe in fuzz 
in soundlessness 

we will run our fingers 
over the flatness 
look for a raised nub 
of screw on wood 
look for some small trickle 
of the third dimension 



with a whisk over a stainless steel bowl 

I made mayonnaise with two whole eggs 
instead of yolks only 
an amateur mistake 
as such mayonnaise would require 
a vat of oil to thicken 
into stiff spreadability 
the furious whisking seemed eternal 
crook of arm muscles aching 
and a brow that would have been all-a-sweat 
if the kitchen were not so bloody cold 
and you called me on the telephone 
you said he’s gone to hospital 
something’s wrong with his head 
and because you were sleeping together 
on the sly you needed me 
because only I knew why 
you were so particularly upset 
I said it’s fine he’s in the right place 
by which I meant what has he taken 
and with what has he taken it 
and has he taken too much 
so I went back to whisking 
as physical exercise is good 
in the face of could-be-bad news 
and you called me on the telephone 
you said he’s in a coma 
that he’s not coming out of 
and I dropped the mayonnaise on the floor 
and I drove you to the hospital 
to half the town and two bottles of whiskey 
the most sober party I have ever been to 
at two in the morning we ate chips 
from the vending machine 
and though I was fresh from quitting med school 
I didn’t know what to do in a hospital 
I forgot not to cross my fingers 
rumours circulated with the whiskey 
that it happened when he was having sex 
and not with you 
shockingly dead at thirty-eight 
we filed in to hold his hand 
there was nothing to be said but 
and also very quietly 
I love you 
though the machine was still there breathing 
and squeezing his heart he was so gone 
his lips already waxy and closed 
at four in the morning we filed out 
with a hangover worse than we 
had ever tasted 
and on the fourth day I was in the shower 
because only under warm water 
is the mind safe and quiet 
and he was sitting in the bathroom 
in his faded black as before 
freshly lint-rolled 
to clear the cat fur 
with his eyes half closed 
I wrote hello sailor to him on the glass 
I knew he shouldn’t be perving 
but he was a dead man so I smiled 
it is thought that for three days they 
settle in and on the fourth day 
they take to roaming 
either way the cheeky fuck 
came to look at me in the shower 
and dissolved again into steam 


water is high for pipi 
two cold inches deep 
our hands are wintered 
our gumboots have small holes 
we work with slow ache for 
but there is not breath enough 
to keep our four hands warm 

I brave chills 
because you have seven years 
on me 
and you were there 
the first time 
I held pipi 

dig your fingers into sand 
strike hard shell 
wash a little as you bring them up 
dig the small ones back in 

your mother once told me the story 
of your birth 
being dragged under 
while you were cut out 
by obstetricians 
though she kicked 
and she cried 

your mother has never 
trusted men or doctors since 

but somehow loves 
one scruffy 
intact tom cat 
who has fathered 
a whole neighbourhood 
never sticks about 
to watch the babies come 
smoothly in parcels 
never stays to watch 
mother nibble away 
each pearly membrane 
her rough tongue 
draw open each first breath 
her tired belly rise and fall 
the milk in pools 
about kitten mouths 

when we get home 
we take the back door 
shut it rough 
while winter air reels 
and sighs through house cracks 

we put the pipi in the bathtub 
and you fuck me 
while I worry about whether 
my whimpers are inspiring 

either way it’s warmer than before 
either way your skin is smooth 
and I am a pock-marked curve beside you 

we take the pipi 
out of the chilling bath 
help them into a hot one 
with a slice of butter 
stop their quiet filtering 
through sea breaths 
pluck congealed thumb tips 
from shells 

your mother is guilty 
of taking the small ones 
turning them slow 
in warm tap water 
running her thumb 
over their shined lips 
to touch the hard groove 
the living tightness 

your mother is guilty 
of killing quick in wine 
brine deep 



This year Rebecca Nash lived in Paekakariki and did her MA at the IIML and made a baby. What she will do next year is anybody’s guess. Though she will probably write more poems.