On the edge of a 600-year-old volcano, the tide is coming in.

A causeway traversed at low tide connects the static lava flow to a greenness, an island where I stand watching on the deck, beneath cobwebs.

I return to my cabbage, cut from the soil and carried on the boat, now resting on the steel bench. I unpeel it slowly, wanting each leaf whole, without tears.

The Polish word for cabbage is kapusta (kah-pusss-tah). It sounds like you should spit it—all those marching men who cleared the pantry—but the recipe promises comfort. I wash the place where the leaves furl inward.

Two takahē occupy the hill below this house. They speak to each other amidst the endangered pinaki, daucus glochidiatus or ‘native carrot’. Under natural circumstances, the takahē wouldn’t have lived here, they can’t cross water from the mainland, Athanasius says.

Me too, under natural circumstances.

I blanch the cabbage leaves and lay them on a tea towel to cool.

This morning we crossed the island in an LUV. I opened the gates and Athanasius parked by the beach. He had come to install a sign which reads:

             NO DOGS ALLOWED

but in the post hole was midden—a layer of shell discarded—so the sign lay in the grass, a lost instruction.

The recipe for Gołąbki (go-ump-key), calls for rice, butter, beef, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and a savoy cabbage.

Grandma Stephania stepped from the ship to the shore of Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, a young orphan, on her wrist a tattoo, a collection of numbers.

the kete of Athanasius


he’s a saint of eternal life
he makes use of the fallen

manuka branches
on white sand

good for smoke
knows something

about the wind
and warmth

calls waves
white horses

the balance of wisdom
and power

strung on a necklace
he plaits

harakeke and snails
milk caps

line and pumice
dares to swim

in winter
with his kete

of salt
he’s done this before

knows fish
not woman

toes crescent
for tuatua

tongue flowers
for mussels

between mouthfuls


Red Mercury
Great Mercury


will you be my lover?

the bringer of light


he stole tulips from the gardens
and cut they drank
from a vase beside his bed

watched him singing
into my mouth
and between my legs

my orange silk dress draped
like the last light across the floor

then sometime between
dusk and dawn
he doused me in a scented oil

told the tulips
look at how she shines
then choked me

before I could say no
before I could see

if only there were bruises or blood
you might believe me
if only the tulips kept watching

even just one
to witness


Lou Annabell is a Manawatū born artist, market gardener and poet based in Te-Tara-O-Te-Ika-a-Māui | The Coromandel Peninsula. Her ancestors came to Aotearoa from Vistula Delta, Poland and River Wolf, England. Her poetry explores her relationship to water, violence and resistance.