in the midst of taking cover
a surfacing, I perform a kind of tension as language leaves me
comes over me, codelike / botanical
I find myself with the power
—Carrie Lorig

someone told me I wasn’t Māori enough

it stuck in my gut
an ancestral pain moved me
so I walked to the beach
fell asleep on the rocks
until the tide came in
I saw other brown bodies
that were not mine
huddling together in the current
I shifted the sand
the water pooling
around my ankles


it’s always the end of the world
and I’m a character I don’t recognise
I reach my hands into the middle of my body
down, up and out
and return with a sparkling nothing
there is distance between myself
and the desired object
there’s a light that blinds me
curves into me
a fracture
I begin to see the shape of it

the day after she died, I read Mary Oliver
tried to imagine my own dreamwork

while the neighbourhood kids yelled
trees moved making new shadows
but something heavy was dragging me
to the bottom of the pool
sleep is like being underwater
caught in the slipstream of skin

a feeling like a tearing
moves through me

sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between
dreams and not dreams
was I awake when my eyes
were carved into
dark whirlpools
or when I pulled out all my teeth
waking up alone in an absence
of blood

one night I had a vision
a house with two doorways
the young moon on its back
a sign of bad weather
the body is tired from doing nothing

to cause someone to dream of you
makes you powerful
there’s an ethereal sound
a sobbing sound
lie down inside
where you had forgotten your dream

in the morning
there’s a garden growing
in my spine

I try to muster up something
from a far off place



when I’m
I wear my
around my neck
let it beat against
my sternum / as I’m
walking / I wear it on
days when / I can’t feel
my power / sometimes it
just goes / it reminds me of
something / vast and enterable
the waitakere ranges / the ocean
which encompasses our language
am I abandoning / myself / my place
of birth / being drawn backwards into
these / nationalities / at home / I walk
on the same ground / as my ancestors
connected to something bigger / I can
put my hands / into the heart-shaped
leaves / of the flowers with a darker
throat / feel the shape / and form
of treasures / there are things
that good to feel / what I
need is beating against
the bone that
protects my


Stacey Teague (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a poet originally from Tāmaki Makaurau. She has one full-length poetry collection, Takahē (Scrambler Books, 2015), and is the poetry editor for Scum Mag. She recently completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters.