In 2008, CRAIG CLIFF attempted to write one million words... *awkward silence* His poetry has most recently appeared in Trout, Turbine and Blackmail Press, and his fiction in Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 5.

*   *   *

       Fifteen

       Well on your way to adulthood
       you stand like a wooden
       carving of a giraffe
       prone to toppling when toddlers
       rumble past.

       *

       On the plains I saw a mother bend
       her neck into a rainbow of affection
       and rub her child’s hide
       with her horns.

       (The guide explained the horns,
       or ossicones, are there from birth,
       lying flat against the skull
       and popping upright after seven days.)

       When the juveniles ran
       their bamboo legs held
       somehow.
       At dusk two adults crossed necks
       like crossed swords
       and I couldn't not think: “Love.”


       The Hoarder

       The smell of your plaster cast
       just after it was removed

       The roundness of stones from Pahongona streams

       Every double-yolked egg you’ve ever cracked
       The chords for ‘It’s Only Natural’
       and the order in which to play them

       Your fascination with cellophane

       Beef stroganoff

       The discarded skins of the cape gooseberries
       you rolled down your uncle’s alley

       The weight of a triangle struck in perfect time

       The stroke order for twenty-two kanji

       The shocking pink of your teenage rebellion
       (and the wafers they stuck in ice cream sundaes).

*

       Here in the last place you’d look
       I will wait.


       ‘Josephine’

       engaged,
       I would go to his picture again and again
       though it would not stain me / would only
       appear in blinking eyes—
       one quick comet to spot

       *

       there in the last joists of light
       the dark north of his eyes
       their quick surveys—
       a ladybird stuck in the honey
       I have pledged to become.