Hinemoana Baker

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The smell in the elevator is incense in the morning, aftershave in the afternoon. This golden stand of skyscrapers, says the Grandfather, wasn’t always here. The one called Mantra, he fell in love with the tallest lady over there, on the far side. But she was already betrothed to the big grey fulla on the right. She didn’t know the grey was a thief and a liar, that he’d already killed, and eaten the eyes and brains of, his first wife and his mother-in-law.
Kore-rawa already knows the rest of the story, how the birds intervene, drag Mantra from the Coast so he can at least see his lady-love forever. Probably that’s how the river was made. Then just as the wedding’s about to take place the bride’s three strapping cousins arrive with weapons and old jealousies, step between the betrothed just as the sun rises and they’re all frozen there. She says the words to this day.
No, says the Grandfather. His laugh is ground crickets and sprinklers. Not even close.

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