At my stillest
I can see

the movements of my heart.

You must be close
to notice

how my left breast pulses.

I am impressed
by this most-hidden muscle,

proud of its tenacity.

Every other muscle in me
spasms and flails

but my heart

beats, it beats,
it beats.




A swarm of bees on the roof means the house will burn down

The table is set for dinner
and Constance sits and waits
with the smell
of roast lamb and the sound

of vegetables boiling in water
in pots on the stove,
softening as they’re scalded
from the outside in.
Peeled carrots. Young potatoes.

A bee emerges, sickly, from the roses
in the jar in the centre of the table.

If you say good-bye to a friend on a bridge, you will never see each other again

The phone on the wall in the kitchen rings and she picks it up. “Connie, this morning I was walking across the Bond Street bridge and was sure I saw my dad on the other side. I stopped and everything froze for a second. I think I held my breath. Of course it wasn’t him. Then suddenly it felt as if the bridge was moving and I looked over the railing at the cars below and every one of them was red. I got that feeling, you know, when you get the urge to jump? but you won’t? you just feel this kind of pull?”

A yawn is a sign that danger is near

She has never been so tired,
wakes in the night tangled in sheets,
clutches at her throat dreaming
she’s drowning in dirty laundry
and when she gets up in the morning it’s worse.

It is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path

Constance closes the front door
and removes each shoe, calls out
Hello? She walks down the hall
and sees the cat in the kitchen,
lying on its side with eyes staring
pink and milky, tongue out, dead.
This morning at the washing line
it wove figure-eights around her ankles.

To dream of a death is a sign of a birth; to dream of birth is a sign of death

Constance wakes
not knowing
where she is.

She’s in her bed.

She recalls dreams
about the endless unborn
ghosts in her womb.

She thinks about her flesh turned to carrion
or a carrion flower,
blooming in death —

all those seeds
scattered over dust.



Jane Arthur completed her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2015. Her poems have been published in SportIka, and Sweet Mammalian. She lives in Wellington and has a dog.