Mayhem Literary Journal is proudly sponsored by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato

The Land Without Teeth - Rebecca Hawkes

the year my body learns about want
I am waking with hunger before the dawn 
I rummage stale raisins from the muesli box

& suck them until the grapes rehydrate enough to denude
from their tasteless skins with my tongue        it makes them last 
I pocket five withered fruits as though that breaks the fast

I whistle the dogs to me from their kennels 
ready for ascension in corduroy & gumboot 
& scuff through hoarfrost to the bush gate 

up a route I take every morning in the hours before light
early riser clambering up the crest of the mountain 
away from the family home        the little cat warming my bed

the taunting kitchen        I come here 
to get back to the stone that made me
to escape my mulchsoft body   returning 

to the old volcano’s swollen belly
fleshpink rhyolite muscular with its red web of veins
like mine        thinblood anaemic        red knees skinned on the rock

crumbling iron &        crystalline structures
walking the dogs up the mountain in the dark
& stumbling my malnourishment but oh the sunrise

gilding the frost        fenceposts polished to silverware
the light so cold and loud it clangs like a cutlery drawer in anger
my pores whorl open like spiracles to gasp for extra air

becoming so unbodied        I sublimate
I get with the dirt
dizzy with cold & light I

am the black beech & the red tussock & filigree 
lichen I’m honeydew I’m
braided into silver ribs 

like the river below oh no I’m
more slender than harebell stem 
which can hardly hold up its pale head        five petals

bluelipped         but this body’s no alpine native
I am introduced to this place 
like the gravel track tattooed on the slopes

& the unstrung barbed wire 
spangled with needlefrost I am
the pregnant heifer wheezing in the valley 

I’m the dogs I’m buttery 
gorsebloom yes I’m that 
impregnable alien 

pricklebitch skeleton 
sway underneath my nodding 
marzipan scented yellows 

forbidden stellated spindle I could rag you like plasticbag
all claw & fang         tell me I am your favourite colonizer
besides you couldn’t unroot me if you tried

which I would know        I try so
hard my seeds lie dormant 
still         I’m evergreen

me & my entire invasive species
consuming this landscape once so toothless
its homely fatbirds plumped defenceless in the shrubcover

where my little cat         collarless        devours them
with malice         leaves them gutted in my bed
as though I need a reminder of bones

Contributor's Note

Rebecca Hawkes is a Wellington-based painter and writer, originally from rural Canterbury. Rebecca’s poems have also found homes in Landfall, Starling, Sweet Mammalian, Mayhem, Mimicry, and elsewhere. More of her work can be found at rebeccahawkesart.com.

 

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