Girl (1818)


I am a girl, spending my girlhood learning
about men.

Anyway, this is the only education there is, and I am lucky
to have it. I think like this—what not to do—
what to do better—
putting the past behind me like the last tree falling
in the dark forest that has separated us
all these superstitious centuries.

I walk out, swinging the axe.

                        I unbutton myself
for bed and find the tough heart of a man clenched
beneath the hot silk
of my skin.

I can feel it
                        pressing up behind my teeth
like feelings. My heart wants many things—wants
to be many things       a stable-hand—a mason—
a dealer in antiques—a navigator—painter—
forbid it
a poet

Letter in Torquay (1840)


I’m devastated by this lack—
but language does not come—
I keep thinking, if I could go back—
my hand on your arm as you boarded, stay with me today—
our stories would have been of luck gleaming sweetly—
like the morning after a familiar dream—
Instead a long keening and black—
headlong into thickets of storm—

Daily I ask the water this question—
daily it turns its back


Hannah Mettner is a Wellington-based poet from Gisborne. Her first collection, Fully Clothed and so Forgetful (VUP 2017), was longlisted for the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and won the Jessie Mackay Award for best first book of poetry. She is co-editor with Morgan Bach and Sugar Magnolia Wilson of Sweet Mammalian, an online poetry journal launched in 2014.