essa may ranapiri

the pain of separation are lights in the sky

Tahi / Matariki

I have no idea where my whenua went
and I know my mother didn’t eat it
but I’m confident that the connection still

I would be confident
if I wasn’t so unsure

but maybe uncertainty is a stand-in for hope in this
century setting itself up to be our last
I had grass stains on my school shorts
when we watched An Inconvenient Truth

I don’t remember
being taught anything
about kaitiakitanga
or perhaps I wasn’t listening
playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in the back of the classroom

Rua / Pōhutukawa

what would it take to see past that veil
and to touch the faces of those
that have gone home earlier
to make a place worth leaving for
did my grandma pick out the gaudiest of curtains
the peach and brown mess that works more over
walls in the house
than it does for windows
has her mother prepared a good feed for all the young
tired ghosts that make the trip
over the cape
you’ve come such a long way there’s so many people who
have been dying to meet you

Toru / Waitī

my uncle takes me out eeling in the salt marsh
te pō poorly lit by headlight and phone
we find long black tuna
and proceed to make it dead
harpoon in hand
point sliding off the poor creature’s slick head
three great thwucks in the sand
and then one sickening crunch
we leave it in the dark the light gone out of its eyes
because my uncle
doesn’t want to stink up the van

Whā / Waitā

I get sea sick as we wait for a bite the nylon threads all taut
tracking behind sinkers the hook shining somewhere deep down
I lie in the cabin
and try to read a book
about sacraments
I miraculously avoid getting vomit on the pages

Rima / Waipuna-ā-Rangi

what could be done to stop the tears from flowing
for all the wrong that brings up a lake
that feeds the trees in salt and wet
could we rewind the rain back up
like some VHS tape
to iron out the tears in the picture

Ono / Tupuānuku

we eat the land
the land eats us

Whitu / Tupuārangi

we climb the large avocado trees at the back of the property
up and up to that black fruit thinking about its buttery green flesh
my brother the one that rides the stallion without practice
the one that kicks it in the side to go faster
has the same amount of patience with the
old branches
and tests one past its limits
jumping up and down the whole limb
comes off and my brother plummets
laughing all the way

Waru / Ururangi

almost every night when we go to bed my partner breaks wind
powered by beans that we ration over the week
there is a salty egg smell and if it’s really bad
the hint of dead things
filling a sewer
there is almost an after taste to it
but the warmth is appreciated on these winter nights
I get to thinking do Tāwhirimātea’s pressure systems come
from the front or the back?
My partner looks at me with a spark in her eye that says why not both.

Iwa / Hiwa-i-te-Rangi

What are we going to do with what is left?
How do we stop taking things that don’t belong to us?
I gave back the Lego™ I had stolen
without saying a word,
but I’m not sure that made up for it.
Little astronaut man travelling from Gisborne to Tauranga
and back without anything being missed.
But still it was taken.
And I know that and the little yellow guy
with detachable arms knows that
if it knows anything at all.
I didn’t make any resolutions this year.



essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa, they/them/theirs) is the author of ransack (VUP, 2019), their first book of poetry [if they die before the end of the settler colonial nation state of NZ you owe them a revolution]