2 Poems from New Zealand Writer Lynda Scott Araya

POUNAMU

Jerked awake,

Panicked, I reach

For the pounamu necklace

Once yours

And now mine.

As you once were.

The cord has twisted too tight

And my hands,

Sleepy,

Confused

Scrabble to get loose 

From suffocating bedclothes

To pull it free.

Heart racing,

I think again of my colleague asking

Were there claw marks at his neck?

Cruelly calm

Clinical and measured.

As though the question were normal

As though I had not thought it

Already a thousand times

As though knowing 

Would make a difference.

Note: ‘Pounamu’ is the traditional name for greenstone in New Zealand. It is highly prized in Māori culture and often used in carvings.

THE GHOST UPSTAIRS

She is always there

The ghost.

Just below the surface of my mind

She watches me gardening sometimes

Peering out of the old bubbled glass

Of the upstairs bedrooms.

Panes that have thickened 

At the bottom like an old lady’s legs.

She introduced herself one night.

Treading softly up the stairs, each step a slow wheeze

A loosening of her corset

A regaining of breath.

She sat on my bed

Sideways as though sitting on a horse

Like a lady.

Both of us avoided eye contact.

With the dent of the bedcovers

I felt her disappointment in me

The oppressive feeling

Like a firm hand pressed on my forehead as though I sickened.

Usually, though the ghost is furious

And fulminates against a world closed off to her.

Where she no longer belongs

Although once the house was hers and her signature remains.

A beautiful elegant cursive reminder of it all 

Hidden behind a cupboard door.

Death has brought her a new freedom

She throws herself against walls

Hurtles through the upstairs bedrooms startling the guests.

Once she stood over me as I lay in terror

Still not looking.

She rocked me vigorously backwards and forwards

As though I were errant dough

Not quite the right consistency.

During the day, the ghost skulks hostile under beds.

Making up the beds 

I imagine her hands reaching towards my ankles

To pull me under

To suck me into her world

Sometimes it is a struggle to resist.

About the contributor

Lynda Scott Araya is an educator of English and writer from the South Island of New Zealand. Her poetry ‘Enigma’ and ‘Today’ is published in Grey Thoughts (2019) and her fiction is forthcoming in Wild Words and The Pangolin Review.

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