Playing Dead


That weekend I played dead under the covers
sand between my fingers from a hollowed out crab

that Sam brought me
back from the beach. He is asleep beside me, tired now.

Out the window a large model airplane
rises over the tree line. The pilot must be in our local park

walking backwards, making small adjustments.
I can’t quite make out

whether my son is sleeping or pretending to sleep,
his small body curled like a nut,

his back rising with each puff of breath.
The plane comes up again

the pointed finger of its body catching
the light before it tumbles away

and I try to pretend I’m a bending wave,
or a hollowed shell, or even the man

in the park, walking backwards, caught in
the grassy, wet feeling of the afternoon.

I try to pretend that when something goes
it simply drops from view.


Sarah Jane Barnett is a poet, editor and creative writing teacher based in Wellington. Her poetry has been published in New Zealand, Australia, and the US. Her debut collection A Man Runs into a Woman was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Her second collection, WORK, was released in October 2015. Sarah is the Literature Editor for The Pantograph Punch.