an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

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Tarot #07
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Tarot #01

The Boy Nikolai

Wolves live in our cistern.
They moved in the day Mr Adams
told us a story in assembly
about that Russian boy.

Their disguise is a cascade
of blued water, like Siberian blizzards.
Their appetite as deep and impossible
as the River Volga;

Nikolai was only the start.

I know it’s true:
Mum stops tutting
when I ask her to flush,
saves herself, tooth and claw,
for Dad.

Even in daytime, the wolves
don’t rest. Nikolai was taken at noon.
Rising wind screamed like a child
in the sleigh-driver’s ears,
and falling snow buried
the smell of blood.

Running isn’t fast enough.

Wolves can’t climb, I whisper,
over and over, but I fall asleep
with my head under cover,
and lie with my legs tight-crossed
if I wake in the night.

My parents’ voices whip
like winter winds on Russian plains,
and I stay awake,
remembering the boy Nikolai.