essa may ranapiri

where i got the idea of apart from

for Papatūānuku



listen to movements
what are they like
that She has had
so long
to stretch
Her own body


it was either to stubbornly get mud all up the back of my legs
or it was that i kept my shoes on until the jams in my toes
began to stink     through my school socks     there was no in
between barefeet and otherwise     i would sit in the back yard
with my legs crossed like some memory of meditation
transported from the television     the clothes line would creak
before the wind the green green grass would tickle nervous lines
onto the hairs growing     i would pull at one until the whole
line of root gave and stare at the patches of steam that pushed
from the little concrete path that followed the murder of a
whole colony of ants     couldn’t smell them like how i could
smell them if and when i squeezed them into nothing between
my fingers and thumb


i guess

vice versa

spinning on one foot
inside of a dust mote
seen in the reflection
of a lonely shuttle making its escape to the edges of the night



as She gives us
a whakapapa of shape
so unlike destruction
we all swim in Her until birth and long after
like flowers turned upside down and stretching towards warmth


the fern is starting to dry out
the whir that saves us from mould extracts all
moisture from the plant
i sit the dying thing on the cabinet next to my bed
i lie my head on the pillow and watch it shrivel


it’s like writing about something like this makes my life feel
important     but it also gives me a severe pressure in the gut i
can’t just think my way          out of          the dehumidifier is
on almost nonstop these days because     of how damp our little
unit gets

a constant whirring
inside of me and out



really fucking listen to Her

She is getting ready to let go

and we know the names of the people who are forcing Her hand

first and last
their pictures on the internet

each one a number and a face we can find
eating dinner retired into a wall
of not talking to their family
that they built a world of nothing for

the dull lamplights shrivelling up on electronic metal
the pipes and pipes and pipes of it
the shit we drive through

let Her take back
what they have tried to steal

but the man in the suit is
disappearing into fork clink
through steak rarer than his wealth
cinch that tie just a little closer in
to pinch at the neck

maybe even a speck of blood pulling itself out
and onto the fine cotton
on to the fine work of others
a minuscule globe the colour of

maybe the work of giving these bodies back to Her
will do enough to end the pain


in the night i can hear cows grazing out in the paddocks
their low groans some symbol of childhood
each one will lift their tail
to swat or relieve

a memory of a farm and the way life was meant
to be plunging right               into the earth


the handkerchiefs i kept in my pockets always deterred
my bullies from checking once they
had felt the cold damp of my runny nose
caught in the cloth
but listen

She is singing

an asphalt scream digging into the sides of mountains
or dams suffocating rivers into dwindle     its schist scatter
the wire trapped inside the throat of a bird or such gargantuan
rumbling          as the sky torn out from the air     a real physical
noise like the one coming out of my head     or mouth as I read
this poem out loud to my friends          who are all in the same
room behind glass leaning fragile on desks     leaning back in
chairs on scuffed carpet a cool blue fading to white     read these
words out loud to my friends who are all in the same

starts out as a metaphor but we’ve seen how the water rises
and I’m holding a pen in my hand or barely holding on to

oh fuck why


after all of this
would You take me back
it’s a trick to suggest
we ever


i can hold a grain of sand in my mind’s eye
it trembles in and out of focus
it creates a mountain of glass between my lids

i can almost hear the music of it

coming in hacked starts

wet fingerprints sprout
icicles stratifying

coming in singe of wind under wing
they assemble a choir to sing
their drone pushing to the edges of breath

until ragged glitch of exhale

i hold my hands over my ears
and try not to feel it radiating from

my very bones


a homesickness
that is gigantic

bigger than all our longing combined





it is Her

in between the spaces
of this poem
where the black lines of the sky
crater into the light

at the base of every sound
at the centre of all gravity
is everything She is
and was and will be

a clenchedness
a tired cough caught closing

Her say
just be and awe
and listen

essa may ranapiri (tainui / waikato / maungatautari / waikawa / manakau / tararua | mātaatua / whakatāne / pūtauaki | cuan a tuath / guinnich / thames / highgate | takatāpui | they / ia) kaituhi residing on ngāti wairere whenua / they will write until they’re dead

< Hana Pera Aoake

Emma Barnes >

By essa may ranapiri

(tainui / waikato / maungatautari / waikawa / manakau / tararua | mātaatua / whakatāne / pūtauaki | cuan a tuath / guinnich / thames / highgate | takatāpui | they / ia) kaituhi residing on ngāti wairere whenua / they will write until they’re dead