Out of the Wind

You wander in, oh innocent, just 
to get out of the wind. Barely have time 
to take one lung-sustaining breath 
before you go down, pressed 
into the surging bull-kelp – Kirks’ 
mid-winter sale. The great whites 
are out in force, cruising the displays 
of cut-price cashmere, never blinking 
their cold disc eyes, but snapping  
shawls off the very fingertips of the slow, 
draping dorsal fins with pastel pashminas 
pretty as sucked-out angel-fish, or black 
and flat as a chomped-on wetsuit. You flap 
down there, pinned to a rack of leftovers. 
It’s buy or die. So you harpoon your way 
to the surface, using your brand new pink 
umbrella, half-price, very chic, which 
inverts in a blossoming manner, anemone 
on a stick, the instant you breach 
at Lambton Quay and Brandon, glorying 
in the full-funnelled southerly wallop. 


Sue Wootton is the 2008 Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. She has two collections of poetry, Hourglass (Steele Roberts2005) and Magnetic South (Steele Roberts, 2008). ‘Out of the wind’ was written after a particularly stormy midwinter visit to Wellington.