New Poetry by Linda Collins

LIES

Actually your Singapore sons and daughters

are quite safe with me,

says the oldest solitary ang moh* woman

in Holland Village (ersatz mock windmills)

tonight as she sips a margarita

at Cha-Cha’s Mexican.

Your children have the pick

of each other, all sleek

pretty happy things.

There’s no reason they would

want to be with a sixtysomething

former blonde who scowls when they

call her aunty, who refuses

to be what the world wants her to be.

She’s ordering another drink

from the friendly Filipino waiter,

pock-marked face and

problematic work permit,

he knows and

respects

desperation.

*Caucasian

ABOUT THIS POEM

Čica isn’t really what the vineyard workers said,

it was djevojčica 

but that’s a mouthful. My Kiwi ears

heard it as dabchick, from a poem I’d just

read, and I thought it was beautiful

how this culture – not mine by blood, but

by marriage – saw girls as fuzzy brown balls of feathers.

Decades later I still recall random words,

kola (circle), vino (wine).

Teta Mary (Aunt Mary), dida for grandfather.

But mostly I remember the swearing,

something that sounded like cunte cusha

and family yelling the shut-up word,

muči, over and over.

Two generations down they were still

angry, torn, bitter, murderous

about leaving Dalmatia,

fleeing the Austro-Hungarian war

all the way to

the raw frontier of Aotearoa

having to dig kauri gum

to survive.

then acquiring land,

they knew the

importance of possession.

The soil, heavy clay,

totally unsuitable for grape vines,

they planted them anyway.

About the contributor

Linda Collins is the author of Loss Adjustment (Ethos Books, 2019), a memoir about the death by suicide of her teenage daughter, Victoria McLeod. Collins, a New Zealander based in Singapore, has an MA in Creative Writing. Her poetry has appeared in The Cordite Poetry Review, Prometheus Dreaming and Flash Frontier, among others, and her poetry collection, Grief Box, is forthcoming with Math Paper Press, Singapore.

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