Heavy limbs

I’m four years old, in my mother’s bet, thrashing about fitfully, a cast on my leg, and my mother sings.

ehara e te mea

It’s dark and too hot and the leg hurts and I can’t sleep and she holds me in sleep, strokes my hair, keeps me from waking.

 no inaianei te aroha

Again, that one again.

no na tupuna

I’m in my grandmother’s bed, much too sick for school, scarlet fever. She helps me sip iced water from a straw, and sings me to sleep.

there are places I remember 

She makes me lemon instant pudding, jelly, grapefruit ice blocks, egg sandwiches, tempting my appetite.

I know I’ll often stop and think about them

A damp brown-blond head rests on my chest and I shshhh and rub his back and he’s my baby again, lying with me in a hospital bed. My mother is sitting next to us, lullaby and goodnight. She sings and I hum. The child drifts to sleep.

when I think of love as something new

The second night at home after the operation, he can’t stay asleep. He coughs and chokes and cries. I lie with him, hand on his chest, and sing.

tuku iho, tuku iho


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