magnet bay farm


What would I know? I’m awake. It’s the sleepers 
who rock the creosote cottages on their forelegs. 
The eyes of the cicada are beads of brown blood. 
It’s one thing to drink water straight from the hose. 
It’s another to follow that hose back to the house 
back to the tank, to the trough, to the huge cow 
with sharp hips who stamps at the sight of you 
breath steaming under the stars. 


Birds of New Zealand won’t settle down. 
Turbulent in the air, chirping all night in the chimney. 
The leadlight window is unstained. 
Matai and rimu in the floor, macrocarpa in the canopy. 
Leaves dry on their swinging limb, then drop. 
Leaves of things are big enough to be visitors 
waving at the edge of my view. 


Down in your old flat, Jim 
the curtains are pulled 
there’s a water-stain on the wall 
under the cylinder 
and a smell rises as the sun does. 

Up here in the main house 
we sing into the bones of cows 
and the husks of vegetables. 
On walks the magpies swoop 
at the shiny partings in our hair. 
Someone comes who can name the seed drill. 

The cord for the vacuum cleaner won’t reach out 
to the van so it’s the broom. 
Each surfer raises a dustcloud 
each dustcloud a signal. 
The Christmas lily moves beside the concrete post. 

Jim and his dog used to hide in the old shearing shed. 
The carcass of a cat in that shed 
gone to greasy bone, then spindles, then powder. 

I don’t even have to write about this place. 
My body can be an old, soft mattress 
in this bay window. 
One of the tatted pink flamingoes 
on the wall preens itself 
the other raises a pale orange beak 
to the white-string moon. 
Jim wouldn’t care. 

He’s got his books. 
He’s got his haematology 
texts and he’s got his magazines, 
his poets, his atlas, 
his stockmarket reports. 
He’s got his ‘Farmer’ radio, his farm. 
He’s got Clyde the horse and he’s got his dog. 

Let’s not mow the thistles, the salvia. 
Let it all go feral, let the empty tanks boom at noon. 
Let the blowflies and barleygrass whack the windows. 

Listen to Hinemoana Baker read ‘magnet bay farm’



Don’t turn away from me 
in my pink underskirts and skin tags. 
Leopards and finch-flight 
against the early hours. 
I sink faster with fists clenched. 
Neither of us swung through any trees. 
Our palms cooled with coins. 
Your fragrance, your fragrance! 
It makes frangipani gag! you sang. 
It makes tiare cringe! you sing. 
Add isobars, waterspouts. 
It comes out of the ground and is lit on fire. 
Weeks are white, weeks are white. 
My belly has ropes and pulleys. 
The rope made of flax is silken. 
The rope made of pulleys is older. 
Once you’re in there with all the rusting 
washing machines and cicada husks 
just you and your radioactive half-life 
these winds don’t seem so bad. 


Hinemoana Baker descends from Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Āti Awa, Ngāi Tahu, England and Bavaria. Her third poetry collection, waha | mouth, is slated for publication in 2014. She usually works as a teacher, editor, musician and brief intervention smoking cessation telephone counsellor. She is delighted to be spending 2014 as writer in residence at Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters. More information at www.hinemoana.co.nz.