keri & i as best friends


we sit at the window       listening to
rasputin   on repeat. clouds saunter
across a red & rippling sky. she tells me
all the words she knows for home, pulls
up a map, satellites us to her town. the
stuccoed childhood house, the lavender
garden, abandoned plastic toys, her mum
climbing into the car, her back to us, stilled in
time. see? she says gleefully, this is the corner,
this is the street. we’ve pressed pause on
the old world, stop & zoom in on her
face, then repeat: scroll up & down the street
again, hoping she’ll turn & look to camera.


the image stays the same. we sip berry
vodka cruisers, as a joke. laugh so hard
we’re crying. i roll uneven cigarettes that
dismantle as they burn. she inhales, chokes
& grins. the world is on fire & we can’t
help burning things. we fall asleep clinging
opposite edges of bed. we never utter the word
lonely. we don’t know what it means.


her face in the pillow in the morning,
ringlets pasted to her cheek. unglamorous
and noisy. i trickle water into coffee beans.
outside, a boy chases a dog escaped off
the leash. he isn’t fast enough & just keeps
running. the day ahead is an open-ended
question we’ll keep unanswering.


keri collects shells from the beach,
sorts & stacks them into piles, occasionally
pushes one to her lips & elicits an ancient
tone. she knows all there is to know about
the old world, teaches me how to gather pipis
for when this one ends, tells me i am lovely
as i smile. in the sunlight, she’s magnificent
in the twilight, she’s vermillion, fearlessly
embracing a shoreline that retreats & circles
back & leaves again.

author photo of Sinead Overbye

Sinead Overbye (Te Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Porou, Te Ātiawa) is a researcher, historian, and writer living in Ōtaki. Her work has been published in Starling, RNZ, Turbine | Kapohau, and Sport, among other places. She completed her MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2018. Sinead was founder and editor of the online journal Stasis, Kaupapa Māori Editor for The Pantograph Punch, and has worked on a range of other publishing projects, including Te Rito o Te Harakeke - A collection of writing for Ihumātao. 

Sinead comments: 'This poem was written for Kupu Toi Takataapui, an online journal of writing for takatāpui (queer and/or gender diverse Māori) writers, edited by Michelle Rahurahu and essa may ranapiri. We were called to write poems responding to the work of Kāi Tahu author Keri Hulme. This poem is an imagining and a homage to my own best friends.'


​Poem source details >


Sinead Overbye’s website