Hinemoana Baker


The Norfolk pine is coming down.
All the lower branches are gone
the crown tuft now sprouts

off a bald stalk.
Two men stand pointing up
one makes an action with his forearm

of the tree falling.
For the first time from this window
I can see the dark snout of the island

the rusty roof of a surprising shed.
In my mouth a morning
taste of blood and garlic.

When I opened the back door the sound
was a gunshot in the silent kitchen.
The slogan for today is

Drive all blames into one.
The question for today is
Why does the cat drink from the shower tray?


Harnessed, the tree feller
hefts himself up the pine with rope
stepping up branch stubs.

He hauls and hauls, his pelvis
lifted by his biceps. The pelvis
is the heaviest part of the body

my swimming teacher said.
Keep your pelvis on the surface
you won’t sink.

I told you this in the sea one day.
I lifted your entire weight, your arms
around my neck in the waves.


Ventilate the ego, the book says.
Remember your precious human birth.
The deck outside is wet, some planks

darker brown. The casserole
dish you put out for the dog’s drink
is full of rain, the small body

of its water moves
in the gusty wind.
And now here’s a rainbow

ending right in that casserole dish
such colours on the dark grey
the seagulls so white against it

they brighten for a moment
flying past. The chainsaw starts.
Branches fall like locks of hair.

He looks straight in the window
tree feller, now he knows
I’m watching. 

Two thrushes
on the lawn —
fat, speckled fruit.


You will be parking the car
angling the wheels just right
reaching for the long handles

of your Freeset bag. Your keys
will land in there with a treble
heavy sound. You’ll take the lift

to the fifteenth floor.
It’s not yet nine o’clock.
This room smells of toilet bowl cleaner

vanilla and spearmint
and of the balloons you
inflated with a pump for my birthday.

I dreamed the word paper
was a yoga pose
and I practised it, my knees

to one side, hands in prayer.
The rainbow is fading now
from the casserole dish up.

I picture you sitting at your window
your wide shoulders curving towards
the work you do.


There will be no loud call, no Timber!
The tree won’t fall with a crash to the ground.
The feller in his yellow rain jacket

is sawing it off in segments —
the tree will simply get shorter.
The island’s misted over.

The size it is, it’s big enough
to make its own weather.
In hours you’ll rest your back

against my knees, the window
will be running with rain and spray
the venetian blinds making their music.

Author’s Note


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