Poetry by Frankie McMillan

For all my uncles, real and imagined, who dealt with the aftermath of war; for all us girls, remembered and forgotten, who grew up with the sound of accordions in our ears.

The uncles come in from the cold      

lay their rifles on the kitchen table 

It is Saturday night. Snow falls –

the nudging drift of horses before they break

into a canter. Snow falls –

our mother throws a sheet into the air.  Snow falls –

the war beckons through the window. 

When snow doesn’t fall the uncles 

bring out their accordions,

they stamp their feet, they roar with laughter

slam good-natured bodies together. 

Later they lie still     

as dead horses on the living room floor,   

numb to our ministrations. 

We straighten limbs, lay our ears to their chests,

listen for their heartbeats.

Snow falls, we run like soldiers when they stir. 

About the contributor

Frankie McMillan is an award-winning writer based in Christchurch. Winner of the New Zealand Poetry International competition (2009), her poems were selected for Best New Zealand Poems (2012, 2015). Her book, The Father of Octopus Wrestling and other small fictions, was listed by Spinoff as one of the 10 best New Zealand fiction books of 2019.

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