an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Iona Winter

Forgotten Paths

Iona Winter

Published on
page 59 of Tarot #6
(June 2023)

1. These forgotten paths lead nowhere obvious, but invisible creatures scurry and make their kōanga nests.

2. Later, I walk on pavements between parliament beehives and insurance company skyscrapers, with everyone suited up in masks and avoidant gazes, and hipsters with seven-eight-length trousers pressed just right.

3. I watch the flap of a manu wing in the breeze; the remainder lies squashed on the bitumen. I sit still, inside the tornado that swirls around me amidst the noise, avoiding the elephant in the room – my son’s death. It’s as though I’m in another dimension, which I suppose in many ways I am.

4. Sometimes I feel like I’m about five, when the mamae hits. It’s like when you’re a kid and you don’t understand what it was you did wrong, you’ve been told off and it hurts, but none of it makes any sense. It feels like it was yesterday that you died – not thirteen months later.

5. Armour turns your whole body into a patu, and I ask myself does being a crone mean that my only child had to die? How often do I compensate for others when they are faced with my grief? What the hell do people mean, when they say you’re looking really good?

6. Outkast’s Hey Ya, playing on the cafe stereo, reminders of you everywhere, your joy with music and how you always memorised the lyrics.

7. I never had a daughter, but I had a son and the mārama shone out of him from the moment he was conceived. Now he’s gone, in the space of a heartbeat, and his light can only shine through those dimensions accessible, when I’m fast asleep.

Whare pūrākau tāuhu (the house of serial stories)

Iona Winter

Published on
page 60 of Tarot #6
(June 2023)

your mark remains imprinted
unlike my earthen pigmentation
and the impermanence of clay

this whenua echoes in the sea—sky—light
and kanohi manifest in the kōhatu
~ innumerable totems, of you

are the leftovers on the beach all that awaits me
now that you are gone
between pebble-cast-sand and the tide

wave forms and spume couplets coat my stripped-back limbs
in gleaming quartz-like destruction
~ wrought, like tohorā bones from the deep

in shifting landscapes and underwater spaces
taniwha, fresh and salted, flex disembodied muscles
and I am wai—mate

ancient runes and DNA threads lie cloaked and frayed upon my shoulders
but those tohorā bones will rise again
~ agile, weightless and free

Your voice in concentric circles

Iona Winter

Published on
page 61 of Tarot #6
(June 2023)

Light and dark           rā versus pō
the shadows that creased your face were held
then released.

        Columns reach skyward, and punga stones rest beneath cubic facades
   with sharpened edges. Deconstructed beneath the night sky, I am unable to hear your voice in concentric circles, that echo and repeat like rings of fire—
                        there is only this ever-present black.

The injustice of it                       and stark lines 
where others lie in their moulded condolences,
amidst rubble piles of revulsion.   

        Unfathomable pain points me towards the absurdity of your enforced death.
And I count days, weeks, moons, when all that remains is a red mourning light.
    Tangi te mapu, I am drawn in and out, until the ground swells where I stand,
                                              in cruciform protest, inside this ever-present black.

Kākāriki returns me to your smile
       kōwhai your voice                       whero your aroha
like a melody of encircled halos — around your infinite absence.

Ancient histories without human voices, where I listen solely to the manu and the lack of anyone’s authority. It is there I lean inwards, in triangulated opposition to the storm-clouded ether. Now, I hear you say, look up Mā, for soon a comet will streak across this ever-present black.