wait     no, wait 
on the back of an envelope, instructions 
a square veggie plot at the back 
hydrangeas on the left, a rock 
beneath the long narrow Cyprus tree 
under the rock a cough lolly tin 
inside the tin, a key 
wait     no, wait 
returning to her side and the eyes 
of men and the legs of a maiden aunt 
on a screen her shy and blushing 
vascular system, tubulous 
tunnels of rose-root 
beneath the water table of her skin 
returning to watch her plunge 
legs turned mermaids tail or tadpole 
to whisper let me undo your hair 
is that not like a breath 
the beauty of ribbon, the clasp of kelp 
on a hospital pillow 
returning the key to the cough lolly tin 
I think of the age of the cough 
and cakes of birthday soap 
between sheets in a linen cupboard 
a hairbrush in my hand 
in the back of a taxi. 


Michele Amas’ After the Dance was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007, and nominated for the Prize in Modern Letters in 2008. She is currently working towards her second collection with the working title Follow After.