Last Day


The nine-letter Dom Post Target word
is ‘Purgatory’. I hold

your hand. The veins are thick, dark rivers.
Your mouth a wide O;

your breath, quick, snatching at air.
It’s much too warm in here.

You would hate me to see you like this:
so gaunt, so vulnerable.

This morning, as I climbed the steps,
a parakeet, red waistcoat,

yellow stomacher, was piping its heart out.
‘Her heart’s tired,’ the doctor says.

My fingers sting with pins and needles.
Your face has sunk to bone.


Harry Ricketts teaches English Literature and Creative Non-fiction at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published 11 collections of poems, most recently Winter Eyes (2018).