Wrenching a Lid Off a Plastic Pottle


Swamp water oozes from hoof prints
as she struggles along, rising and falling,
believing, as usual, there’ll be a destination.

But it’s the locked room scene,
the one with the shameful part
where she cries, softly and politely,
like a mouse.

She knows the world is practical—
objects fitting holes (and quickly too
or the profits aren’t there).

She sees faint shapes in brown wood
that once spelt Baptist Church and remembers
a story about buildings and streets full of people.
The point was that everything becomes something else.

Knowing this is like scrabbling
at a hard plastic ridge with human fingers.
Bones and tendons shudder,
belief guides effort.

Or is it the other way round?
She interrogates the blank sky,
the kitchen ceiling.
In the evening light cools
along the bonnets of parked cars.
The hill is silent, except for ticking metal.
A world, apart from her mind,
asks to be connected and remembered.

Then people say, in that quick blunt way,
‘use your brains’ and ‘read the directions’.
Everything is obvious. She grabs a weapon
and drives the vein of back roads
where cans glint in the undergrowth
and cracked leaves dangle from grey branches.
Repentance and regret lie ahead.



Mary Macpherson is a Wellington poet and photographer. Her publications are Millionaire’s Shortbread 2003, University of Otago Press (joint collection) and The Inland Eye, Pemmican Press, 1998. A collection of her photographs from ‘17 Days of Shopping’ appeared in Sport 25. She attended Greg O’Brien’s Poetry Workshop at the IIML in 1999.