Today as I step away and out
of myself to look, I wonder
about me and bump: it’s your

Forgive me: but it is not
too late to send a kumara or
book—which seems ordinary

Outside there’s a hell of a
struggle going on between my
cabbage tree and the wind.
The sun has already decided
to hit the sack early: the sky
shakes out a white bull-whip
to crack

Well, you may not like
the bullshit and jazz which
sometimes go with the poetry
I write, and if I tell of an
earlier my-time in another place
another country, well hell
I leave you no choice

Another country? Nothing special:
just another way of growing.
Anyway, at fourteen
the contours of the land didn’t

interest me much and I only noticed
it when I climbed the hill
to school.
The hill got steeper as the work
became harder.

There were compensations:
I wondered about girls a lot. Grew
kind of secretive when I discovered
I had a flair for growing body hair:
recall the day the sky fell on
my head when the lining of my
pocket broke letting out a sudden
harvest of clay and glass balls
which chattered and bounced
on the school floor:
Trevor, Doug, Jimmy, I cried,
and with my voice breaking
into top soprano, screamed:
gimme back me fuckin’ marbles
yous kids

And oh, the hard times
when I used to walk the grey streets
of the city with a face like a
kaka, sardined feet coffined in
shoes too tight for them. Yeah, it’s

hard looking back on the wincing
times. But what a good hell it was
to be vulnerable: cry joy alive
to the whip and zip of blood leaping
in the veins.

Girl, I can’t write a pretty poem
for your thirteenth birthday.
I write only to thank you for the
plate of raw marinaded fish-flesh
which awakened my taste-buds

and to tell you tonight
of the furl of music unfolding
to the wind’s swirl on the cypress
tree next door: imperious rap
of rain on the windows.

‘Sandra’, from Small Holes in the Silence: Collected Works (Godwit, Random House, 2011), © Hone Tuwhare 2011, used by permission of Rob Tuwhare on behalf of the Estate of Hone Estate. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archives 2004.

Sponsor this poem

Would you like to sponsor this poem? Find out how here.