Waiting For My Touch
Janet Newman (Massey University, New Zealand)
I laid my palm against my mother’s head,
cradled in my hand the hard crown
of her scalp, pressed the warmth
of my fingers and the heel of my palm
into the curve of her cheek,
rested my fingertips against the outcrop
of her jaw, rubbed them across the skin
of her lips drawn tight across pale gums,
her mouth-hole open
gasping at the world for air.
She paused, gulped,
body curled bird-like towards
the breath. She did not breathe.
Her shoulders sank into the bed
as if she was drowning
in two inches of water. She sipped the air.
She did not exhale. My fingers through her cotton
wisps of hair.
I saw her pinning back
black curls, in a floral dress:
kowhai, rata, pohutukawa, tui, kereru.
In my palm I cradled her head,
light as egg.
Janet Newman lives in Horowhenua. She is a PhD candidate at Massey University with a research topic: “A Tradition of Ecopoetry in New Zealand.” Her poems have been published in journals and e-zines in New Zealand and Australia. She won first prize in the 2015 New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition and was a runner-up in the 2016 Takahe Poetry Competition.