Winter Solstice 


it’s a clot day / deep red / fresh signs / laid out on toilet paper / my body is underwater

/ ear drums that haven’t popped in a week / i’m old elastic / softly sagging down an

ass / i carry groceries up the hill / cradling milk and clingfilmed chicken thighs / pink

& white / my suburb is eroding itself / heavy rains / wash out / crumbling clay /

spray-on concrete slides down the slope / in sheets / to crush car bonnets / and

disappear the path home / like the banks of a beach stream / soft sand falling / tide

fighting fresh water / i could take out my iud / twist of plastic and hormones / next

winter there’d be bulbs to plant / in any ground left / they’d be buried and warm /

nosing toward spring /

Swim Fragment


one length stretched


feeling the fluid space between

my ribs and the lanes


veins of light 

fill the lines

buoying the body

across emptiness


each stroke untangling

knots and full stops

my limbs scribbling

in the margins

All us oldies want is the occasional melody from the past


New Cromwell has consumed Old Cromwell

made it subterranean            a rat-infested midden layer

torn up weatherboards                     crushed quartz                    tī kōuka trail

underwater souvenirs

Cromwell doesn’t know its own shape

no longer greeting chafer beetles at sunset

a survey maps                  donegal                 wicklow               monaghan

onto sand

nothing is related to anything else

talk-backers sketch                    a claim for the before times

when there were no                            developments

no cyclists                                      only fruit trees

fresh electricorp cul-de-sacs                       tarsealed

all the moa were dead

footprints frozen in stone                 notes on a stream-bed




The title ‘All us oldies want is a melody from the past’ is taken from listener feedback sent into the Kim Hill Saturday Morning show on RNZ on 29/1/22. The te reo Māori name for Cromwell is Tīrau, which speaks to the tī kōuka that were planted as route-markers, and a food source, for those travelling inland from coastal settlements. The Cromwell Chafer Beetle is only found near Cromwell, and is one of the few invertebrates protected by the Wildlife Act 1953. In 2019 fossils of moa footprints were found in a stream at Kyeburn.

Listen to Ella Borrie read ‘Winter Solstice’


Ella Borrie is a Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington based poet from Otago. She is the winner of the 2023 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry at the IIML with her MA folio Confluence. Her MA thesis focused on the landscape change in her hometown, Cromwell. Her work appears in Mimicry, Starling, Stasis Journal, Landfall and Turbine | Kapohau. She has performed in Verb Festival and Welcome to Nowhere. 

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