an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Robyn Restieaux

fatherhood

Robyn Restieaux

Published on
page 12 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

Men hunt and fish you say
lines flying glinting hooks
jerking beneath the skin
finding purchase so the reeling can begin
surface calmly stippled
tugging and frenzy subcutaneous

This is that dance again then the
engorging of manhood eyes wide whites dry
lips thinning
that never-again long-ago child inside
never-again

you
baiting
him with

cruelty—flinging one-liners like a broken recorder
he’s reeling suckerpunched suddenly bloodless
this man-child learning to
drink your stale
never-again
never-again

Remember that fish you landed last summer?
He lay gasping on the rock as you
waited for the air to settle
letting the words sink in
the hook clean through an eye

I watched something drain away
eyes cast over cold

never again

Blend your own masala

Robyn Restieaux

Published on
page 30 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

My neighbour’s masala blend
in its snack size zip top is down to its final grains
Geeta’s a wiz with cumin and chilli and I’m about to
ask for more when my son
            Ngati Kahungunu on his Dad’s shoulders
            and breathing the Satpura warmth of Chhindwarra
            on my father’s side,
stops reading his Koran for long enough
to remind me of my grandmother
how she watched her Maa throw fistfuls of Jeera into her sabzis
its lemon aniseed and tree bark
fragrance dancing, DNA interweaving with mounds of Dhaniya
smiling, milky citrus and grandmother’s Auckland kitchen
short-lived shrine to her maa back home
sang each night with the onions sugaring and curling in ghee

I remind my son before checking the corned beef
not all desis survived the journey eastwards
my grandmother soon learned to Monday grind the Sunday roast
kicking the lamb into gear with the merest lick of salt
the potatoes greying in their stiff little sniff of butter.

All those kitchen ragas their evening ululations
chilli and smoke kissing the rangehood—
have faded in the tidy Auckland air

I lack the knowledge, I tell him

My son fingers the Mushaf
and tells me to blend my own masala

The waiting line

Robyn Restieaux

Published on
page 54 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

In our line at the bank we are flat, silent
yellow feet
prayer beads
at hopeful 1 metre intervals.
There’s a woman
preparing for combat
catches my eye then away with that
10 metre glaze.

Her eyeliner black flicks
uneven ticks on a pro forma
and she whispers ‘aid’ like she’s calling for water.
Dehydrated triage nurse
leads her to a corner
draws the curtains and plugs her in.

I imagine her lying prone like a burn victim
endoscoped
financial hardship raising suspicious lumps in her liver
heart a bag of worms.

They’ll eye her as they tap tap on ergonomic keyboards.
Inspect possible sources of salvation and
finding she still has KiwiSaver
signal for gastric suction.

There’s a back door for people like her
finding themselves more invisible by the day
pale hands clutching at diaphanous skin.