full bloom

the painter with no memory paints to remember that he is alive he paints to remember
that he is able to paint he paints to remember where he found his brushes last time he
lost them every time he paints the cherry blossom tree he thinks he has made a
mistake so he paints out the blossom until he only has a tree with few few blossoms
just a handful sprinkled across the branches like memory the next day the tree is silver
only so he touches the pink carpet of blossoms from the ground with his brush paints
them back on the tree and waits for the wind the hardest wind the wind against which
no one can argue successfully 

the air was freaky with champagne

We popped shivers, ate sighs, 
rubbed frantically against lampposts. 
The lampposts filled my midnight 
mind with knuckle bones, knuckle 
bones on ash carpet. My blue jeans 
shivered with white rabbits. 
The lilt of your collarbones was more 
than I could sink in one slow gasp. 
When you refused, I peeled off 
my breasts, taped them to your shoes. 
When you tried to walk away, I slashed 
your Achilles tendon with my stone adze. 
This is modern, darling. There is 
no argument against the ancient. 

The waves ate other waves with their white teeth

I hid in the forget-me-knots, 
I folded up my face after work, 
Prepared to get rid of the dirt. 
Seagull was smashing his beak 
Into the window, screaming 
‘This is not what I want!’ 
Half house, slim kitchen, sun on the carpet… 


Johanna Aitchison is currently working on her third volume of poems, We Have Come To Collect Our Lives, with the help of a grant from Creative New Zealand. She teaches primary school in Palmerston North and enjoys riding her bike almost everywhere.

The beginning of ‘full bloom’ – ‘the painter with no memory’ – is borrowed from the first line of a Michael Palmer poem, ‘Untitled’ (2000).