I Pack my Sister’s Lunch With a Poem


Remember when you kept a mandarin in your bag for so long
It turned into blue dust
A small puff of smoke escaping

When Daddy opened that pocket
We all laughed while he took the graveyard bag to the tub
To clean the ashes.

I know that it’s common for kids your age to bring back a lunchbox that looks the same as it
Did in the morning (only sweatier, browner)
But Daddy is worrying about your health
And Mummy is worried your friends think we’re poor.
If you leave your sandwich in your bag
You refuse to be fed and nourished
If you leave your sandwich
You have exited their provision
And they will think they have failed you.

I was you and I understand
I slave slightly in the morning, moulding bread, colby and crumbed fish into the most beige Sandwich
Because I know you like to be discreet.
I’ll make you look hip because I’ll add a muesli bar,
The ones that break your teeth
A necessary price to pay to keep your reputation.

And I know it’s not ham and cheese but
If I could I would pack you dumplings every day,
I would make them for you every day
Even though we only have them on Chinese New Year

Though I know a certain kind of trauma that exists with that
(Boys in WWE t-shirts with scrunched up noses).

And I don’t want you to hold a tupperware of shame
Or suffer the remorseful indigestion

So eat your beige sandwich at school
Not at home,
At 4pm when you’re ravenous
Tossed into the microwave
Then ripped and dipped into Sriracha
Like roti and jam.

Night Routine


A Recipe for Baby Bum Skin

3 heaped teaspoons of emulsifying ointment

2 capfuls of bath oil

Boiling water

Marinate your body for 15-20 minutes, or until the water starts to curdle, meaning your eczema is dissolving. Your fingers will be melted prunes.

When you emerge you are some new creature with scarlet sheen flesh.

Chunks of white wax in your hair like spider egg sacs in a black nest

Make your sister scream. When trying to wipe them off,

Annoyingly, backwards to the mirror,

Nothing but baby feathers of tissue hatch.

Inside your scalp your mind feels like boiling soup in a fridge

Cooling into slow gravy.

The crisp grooves of the duvet draw into your raw skin

Things that are back-to-back-upside-down feel terribly better

The world from a worm’s eye is glorious

And is divided into 3 uneven sections

There is a spider in the smallest square

You welcome him into the inner corners of your eyes.


Ronia Ibrahim is a first year student at Victoria University studying Design and English. She is a Taiwanese/Bengali Muslim living in Lower Hutt with her family.