essa may ranapiri


Division as Cultural Myth


the soil    oh or what is in the soil     
dirty hide           reach in  and collect
the bones    find bones and hold
them in mouth           ring the skull
with teeth clatter         there are things
that are as dry as this    inside       incise
bite     all along the foodchain to the first drop
of blood         spilled on the land
we had birds here            and insects here and
only birds and only insects here and here and
people  dissolved from the mist       of the sea
to be all up in the          land              and landing
from metal birds         with surfaces so much more
plane than feather         or beak and began      to speak
the sound of the           mating call and warning call and
performative call           shaping the world and letting the world
shape us as a people            a diverse array         the punch in bell curve 
the hair becoming less hair         the warm becoming cold
eat the sun               get big hooks in its face   and eat     
the heat the heat the heat the heat the heat the heat the heat the heat
nights filled with fire          we draw together on ropes          we bind our
own hopes to the         stars          to a navigation that is as certain as
the clouds we       push from shimmering lungs      a lizard brushes the back
of the leg        we see ugliness and we see              social world of gods        in
its ridges            oh to swim in the dark           our body rocking in the swell
or body as rocks swelling     into giant    tight bound boulder to roll           forwards
it returns to its point of       origin with each  push          and we come back to
an island bigger          we come back to an island bigger than            material reality
it is made of brain and bone and blood       splitting water in two           like life
and not like red seadeath                 i can almost feel it      saying it now        even with a
tongue that acts more like snake than                lizard            lips that fish for answers
and lists               two photos pushed together     over one-thousand years    will become one
in the stream            we all carry it      kicking up split      of everything dark         into everything
that we can see             it is in the soil               where we are in the soil          it is us  all  
hands clasped in hands                noses pressed to cheeks to noses to the dirt                     together
hold tight           hold tight                 hold tight               hold tight hol           threaded into each other


essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa | takatāpui; they/them/theirs) is a poet from Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa. They have words in MayhemPoetry NZKapohauBriefStarlingTHEM and POETRY Magazine, and will write until they’re dead.