As a Child


Because you have olive skin, she says to me, you should wear black, not white. I was a seer. I haven’t seen it yet. I suspect that someone else is driving. The main character: duplicitous, confused, mad. I have no desire to go to America. I write a book with seven chapters, there is a shipwreck in five of them.

If I could be anyone. I search out a plastic bowl from the cupboard, brown with white polka dots you can feel. I fill it with water and, dipping a fine toothed, orange comb, I wet my long hair from root to tip. Kua noho kūare ahau. I admire the radio. I feel approachable, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. It is practically swimming out of me.

I lift the portable typewriter onto a wobbly stool on our front steps. A tumbling waterfall of fluorescent orange light around her. Stories of Jehovah, eighty words per minute. After school photographs I say to my mother What are those funny lights around people? Tihei mauri ora. Tihei māori ora. It makes people envious.

I sit on a step in the sun and type, the whole book in red because the black stripe. Silver, not gold. Dwindling as I get older. Trying to draw with crayon on my arm. I can’t get the hang of metres.




at the pā
nā rātou te kawa
rātou ngā wāhine
e mau panekoti ana

my father
stands to speak

I am a needle of bone
on my aunty’s knee
I have cut my hair

handled gently
I am a thatched weapon
a flake of obsidian

something skirting
the boards of the house
as if it were a property

what he says is like
bread or a bruise

there is a rushing to the edges
the scent of kawakawa releases
into the dark-fleshed home


Hinemoana Baker attended Bill Manhire’s undergraduate Creative Writing class in 1994, and graduated from the IIML’s MA in Creative Writing in 2002. She has had fiction and poetry previously published in journals TurbineSport and JAAM, and in Mutes and Earthquakes and Te Ao Mārama. Her plays have been produced by Taki Rua theatre. She performs and tours her original music, and works as a producer for Radio New Zealand.