wedged between two chests of drawers, I sit
bereft, a rākau stripped of leaves
long before autumn

I perceive this safe-haven like a child, hidden
and most of the time it’s akin to being dead,
although my eyes are lit and
my manawa beats its familiar rhythm
suicide bereavement has made me bulletproof,
and this fucking pandemic is a lightweight
compared to the absence of you, beautiful boy
we’ve become tūī on opposite sides
of a steep gully, unable to cross the divide
and while nothing can rescue me from this
my broken heart is gently stroked
by the lilt of your generous song

Te Reo Māori words: rākau: tree, manawa: heart, tūi: native bird

Iona Winter

Iona Winter (Waitaha) is the author of three collections of poetry and hybrid fiction: Gaps in the Light (2021), Te Hau Kāika (2019), then the wind came (2018). Widely published and anthologised internationally, her work has been performed solo and in collaboration with multimedia artists. Iona is currently working on a creative non-fiction project addressing the complexities of being suicide bereaved, and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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