My entry for the 2015 Magpie Award for Poetry from Pulp Literature. I made the shortlist this year, which is something considering I’m not a poet.
Ada Maria Soto
February cicadas in full, desperate, mating frenzy
Drown out even the western winds
Screaming over Doubtless Bay.
The birds have given up trying to sing.
Even the tui,
Who jealously guards his territory
Between the gum tree and the overgrown hibiscus.
The baby, no longer really a baby
Stands on the back porch
Overlooking the tall summer grass.
Her babble isn’t high and sweet
But rather low, with a heavy driving cadence.
She may be addressing an army of her own making.
The words ‘No’ and occasionally ‘Bubble’
Are scattered through her commanding speech
Rallying her troops to action.
Later grandmother will lead her down the track
Through the bush,
Between the mānuka, palms, and cabbage trees.
Every five steps she stops and squeals
Pointing out a curl of fern or bit of stone.
She tries to pull off her cheap sandals,
The Velcro on the left proving surprisingly troublesome.
The rough gravel and sharp prickles
Beneath her soft baby feet
Do not distract from the wonder
Of a daytime moon in the blue sky.
The night wind shifts then is gone.
There is an unreality in the soft, even,
Near silent, fall of rain,
Caught and cradled by the earth.
Hushed as if it did not wish to rouse
Any who might witness its gentle moment.