Two poems by Gail Ingram



(Kunzea ericoides, Kānuka, White Tea Tree)


I have not mentioned the child before now because she is difficult.

Her shoulders are pulled down by the daypack.

She carries too much.

Her sweatshirt around her waist is the colour of moss on a rock.

Her teeshirt is the colour of the trees.

Her hair is the colour of the trees.

Her eyes are the colour of the trees.


A rock nearby, furry with green moss, observes the child.

The child does not observe the rock; she weighs me up.

I have Pākehā roots. They do not belong here.


Kānuka trees are young, uncivilized;

they barely stifle their knowledge.

They have a certain smell – sharper than musk.

They dangle their branches as if throwing trickles of light over dark walls,

leaving patches on the ground.

Here, the branches are dense, entangled – like a weaving.

Many fingers make a mat.

Some trees have fallen in their grappling to reach.

The ground is grey. The track is grey. There is no undergrowth.

The Kānuka Giant Scale nymph lives here, secretes honeydew.

The Piwakawaka lives here; I saw him before.

I do not think of the multiplicity of insects, who spend egg-larva-pupa-

adult lives burrowed here,

but they are appropriate in this description.


The child is in the centre of this forest scene.


She doesn’t know the trees frame her.

I think of sprites, creeping on tippy toes with their nails out.

She is between the light and me.

The light comes from the opening along the track at the end of the forest,

but in truth it is everywhere – on the branch that stretches its finger alongside her,

points the way through...


Note: ‘Pākehā’ is a Māori term signifying white New Zealander.






without acknowledging this kind of

jazzed-up thuggery

condoned by Kings and judges

who drape themselves in finery, letting

their fools play with swords.

Let us imagine those japes and jerks

as short-term damage, and try instead

to study the journals of that Aussie,

germanely condemning those male fantasies

of made-up monsters, such as witches or

bad mothers and Jabberwockies.

I’m wishing for some alternative

that will feed my boy ripe Jaffa oranges

he will earn, through finding the meaning of

E hoa..


Note: ‘E hoa’ is a Māori term signifying friend.


About the contributor

Gail Ingram
Gail Ingram is a New Zealand writer and author of Contents Under Pressure (Pūkeko Publications 2019). Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published and won international awards, including NZPS Poetry Award and Caselberg Poetry Prize. She is also an editor and teacher of creative writing. More at

Related Articles

Fotoula Reynolds

The Sunday visits  Pretty dress on Hair tied up with Daisy pins in Leather shoes Polished and  She is ready Ready as a...

3 poems by Rachel J Fenton

Rachel J Fenton’s upcoming chapbook is, ‘Beerstorming with Charlotte Brontë in New York’ it is forthcoming from Ethel Zine and Micro Press in 2021.


City dwellers, this provocative poem by Nicole Sellers, with its ironic delivery and thickly packed images, will make you look twice at how you live your life!

More Like This

2 Poems by Glenn Whalan

Glenn Whalan is an Australian adventurer and nomad. His poetry is widely published and his debut novel, ‘In Absurdia’, is due in 2020

2 new poems by Paul Williamson

Paul Williamson is author of five collections, including the recent Edge of Southern Bright (Ginninderra Press, 2017).

Poetry by Ian C Smith

Ian C Smith’s seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy (Ginninderra Press, 2015).  He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.

Poetry by Brenda Proudfoot

Brenda Proudfoot was a finalist in the Joanne Burns Microlit Award (2019), and two of her stories are shortlisted for the Microflix Writers Award (2020).

New poetry by James Walton

The author of The Leviathan's Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, and Unstill Mosaics 2019.