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

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