The passing of secret signals by washing


On the balcony I hung a white sheet
it curled up onto the roof as a sail
with the sound of clapping.

I hung a pink waffle towel
it had been given to me
like the organs of my body
by my mother.

I hung clothes for running
with cryptic pockets and pillowcases
from which the chubby pillows had been delivered.
And I hung socks that said to each other
o yes, I spent many years in the belly of a shoe.

Sometimes on the line I hung sad underwear.

And on the seventh day I pegged out
a red and white striped shirt
that bore a small monogram saying HERO
and the shirt on the line waved its arms and sang
come into my life like a pirate.

Listen to Kate Camp read ‘The passing of secret signals by washing’


Kate Camp was born in Wellington in 1972. She has published two collections of poetry, Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars (1998), and Realia (2001), with Victoria University Press. Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. She was the University of Waikato Writer In Residence for 2002. Camp has also contributed to the Montana Essay Series in 2002 with an essay entitled ‘On Kissing’, and is currently shortlisted for the 2004 Prize in Modern Letters.