The Bird was Going to Die

There was a thin warning of 
blood from its beaky nostril 
and it couldn’t stand, so mum 
went inside for the carving 
knife. I stayed with the bird, its 
eye looking at me as a secret 
hostage would do, wanting to 
say it all with one look. Was 
that the misery we were 
putting it out of? I heard 
mum sharpen the knife, streaking 
the metal against grains of 
stone and when she returned she 
held the bird’s body light 
against the lawn, wiped the blade 
through its throat. I looked at the 
backs of her hands, shining and 
starred like the Chinese Checker 
board, the hands that rubbed eczema 
cream on my thighs, were good at 
knucklebones, the fast snatch and 
scoop, that ran the knitting machine 
across, catching the dots to catch 
the hooks to make rows of snowflakes. 

The History Girl Makes the Cross-country Team

That’s the memory man under a tree, chanting 
her line back into the clay, his feet. 
She crosses distances drum beats cannot, 
everything hinges. 
She runs through the town beneath the abbey, 
hoping they will see her hands are white flags. 


Samiha RadcliffeIndian heritage sprawls through PersiaRussia and Pakistan. Her Pakeha ancestors came from France and The Isle of Man. She was born in Canada in 1979 and spent the first two years of her life on a Cree Reservation. She has lived in Aotearoa/New Zealand ever since. In 2008 Samiha was an MA student at the IIML. These two poems were included in her final folio, The great heart feeds you.