The heart takes its tin box on journeys, packs its memories 
in sawdust, how we love the worn, the imperfect return 

surprising how the miles can swallow 
a body 

you become smaller, a distant blip 
on the screen 

yet they can monitor your heartbeat 
plot whether your trousers 

are up in Timbucktoo or down in Timaru 
or whether you are simply staring 

open mouthed at the sudden hills 

one day your organ will short-circuit, a fuse will pop and as we fumble 
in a dark motel room, the surgeon’s face will light up in wonderment 


Sleepwalking child

In 1481 Jean Bourdicon painted 
fifty rolls of paper with angels 

on a blue background. The guild 
of paperhangers had not yet 

been born. Nor the cabbage rose 
the arabesque patterns 

that covered my grandmother’s wall. 
I was the kid who worried 

the wallpaper, tearing strips in the dark – 
in the morning my hands full 

of shredded roses, not knowing 
who placed them there or why. 

King Louis XVI made a decree 
that the length of the wallpaper 

should be a continuous thirty four feet. 

All those angels, not one 
held back my outstretched arms. 


The Visitation

She is philosophical over the worms 
taking them on day trips to Paris 

which is not unusual, most of 
the populace carry them 

or so she is told by her doctor 
a man who makes her giddy 

with his milky white gloves 
and just as he attracts lumps 

lesions, rusted nails, the cycle 
of birth and all its tender 

consequence; so she is a host 
a moveable feast of bread and wine 

She offers her belly to his hands 
his listening device 

He sings to her in Latin 
                     dientamoeba fragilis 
blastocystis hominis 



Frankie McMillan is a short story writer and poet. Her first book, The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other Stories was published by Shoal Bay Press. Her poetry collection, Dressing for the Cannibals, was launched in 2009 as part of the  Christchurch Central Libraries’ 150th anniversary. That year she was also the winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition.