Who am I?


Who am I?


I’m the daughter

of melting butter

coal fire burning

hoar frost morning

ash-deep air


Khrushchev and

Kennedy, Marilyn,

The Beatles, Sputniks,

Nureyev, yellow peril

reds under the bed


weatherboard and

jerry built, lino

and Formica, the

new acrylic

mustard lounge suite


of roasts and gravy

coffee buns and cocoa

home-made fish and

chips on lace covered

tables, with cutlery


crushed magnolias

hawthorn hedges

lethal rural switchbacks

where cars collided

neighbours died


chilblain, chicken pox

measles, mumps and

chalk dust, school milk

you didn’t drink the

unused inkwells


car coats from Tokyo

Bermuda shorts, hula

hoops, Kodak instamatic

waterlogged togs

school pools


I’m the granddaughter

of an Irish orphan

whose link was verified

long after he died

from family saliva


the daughter of

a country pub Cook

who recited doggerel

on stage with the

passion of a poet


my Dad was a POW

who drowned his

shell shock in the

legally sanctioned

six o’clock swill


I’m a mother, lover,

wife, once Catholic

now atheist, once pro

life now pro choice

an unfinished canvas



sister to two siblings

one turning seventy

the other autopsied

for traces of cyanide

a thin blue line


I’ve two sons with

wives which makes

me a mother-in-law

and now I understand

the fact of hyphens


I’m a grandmother

on standby like the

life guards at Piha

trained all my life

to survive the rips


Should anyone wish

to peel away the layers

I’m a work in progress

base coat verifiable

post war fifties


I’ve worn stiff petticoats

cinnamon tinted nylons

home-made shift frocks

twisted the night away

danced the limbo


I’ve typed for the Post

Office, sold books, made

beds and love in Edinburgh,

waitressed in Norway

served drinks in Sydney


went to Haight Ashbury

rode on a Greyhound

saw the Big Apple

lived in London

even been to Cuba


as the rafters soften

the walls seem closer

the floor keeps shifting

the light’s playing tricks

memories unblunted