an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

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Tarot #07
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Tarot #02
Tarot #01

The Dry-Cleaner’s Daughter

I’d catch the sharp smell of solvent
As I rounded the corner down from our apartment
Hurrying each morning to the station at the Cross
Under the glorious jade and scarlet cascade
Of dozens of swaying bougainvillea
Where, with practised bendings and twistings,
She’d be folding and smoothing and hanging
And sheathing in plastic the incessant array
Of shirts and trousers and jackets and suits
That hug so many of the city’s nine-to-fivers,
Until finally one day I stopped and entered,
And handing over a neighbour’s creased receipt
A child in the backroom stared back at me
Her almond eyes unblinking in the gloom
And I wondered why she wasn’t at school,
As the manager, with my change, explained:
‘I keep her with me, since a week ago,
A man, he try to buy my daughter.’