Hinemoana Baker


As our ancestors did before us we claw
at ourselves and each other, we swell, seize up,
snipe and bitch, hating each other for cytosines

and thickenings, for the errors of general practitioners,
for long nights awake without medicine. You scratch
so hard you bruise yourself. I give away hours of night

to the next yellow day. My mother remembers the rash
that raged across her back and the fleshy heels of her palms.
It vanished the day she said those words, under her breath,

while stacking kindling in the shipping container
we used for a woodshed. We left two weeks later.
My father is all for aloe vera and manuka honey

and us coming up for a break. I pulverise an old
carrot in the screaming juicer. You get a ten dollar
haircut. The sun comes out like a fucking miracle.



my twin sister

She rises like tealeaves from the keyboard, the ranges float past me.
She knows exactly how much cream and brown sugar to add.

My country is the most dangerous thing in the wild.
My country is a mother moose.
A monk strikes a piece of hollow bamboo
with another piece of hollow bamboo.

my twin sister sings

The way you focus your attention on me
is like the way the bottle becomes more transparent

as the level of the wine falls.
The way you touch me lightly during conversations
is like the way the river breathes into its fish.
The sand sings back: You have blood, you have a voice.
You have a grown man making joyful noise too loud, in water, in the middle of the day.

the land that vowels forgot

She lies beside me cooling like an engine.
The soundtrack includes a recording of a monk striking a piece of hollow bamboo

with another piece of hollow bamboo.
The young woman at the Bluebird Diner in East Market Street writes my surname as ‘biker’.
Still, my burger reaches me.
I explain that my first name is only one more syllable than Elizabeth.
The formica on the tables is irridescent with salt from a previous diner.



By Hinemoana Baker

has lived for more than 20 years in Wellington and Kāpiti. She descends from the Ngāi Tahu tribe in the South Island, and from Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa in the North Island. Her new book of poems, waha | mouth, will be published during her 2014 term as writer in residence at Victoria University in Wellington.