I can’t work miracles, Antonio. This is not a parable.
Cling to my legs as you may, burrow in as if going back—
it’s not going to help. Look, here we are outside the supermarket.
The wind is blowing and our clothes are thin. See how
the wealthy can afford to wear summer dresses on a day
like today. They only walk in the shadows for a moment,

just the time it takes to flossy past, all of a doo-da, all of a hurry,
because asparagus must be eaten fresh, and a perfect
avocado must be found. Do you know the perfect avocado, Antonio?
It is soft and melty, better than a pie any day, and better for your heart.
With avocados you need lemon juice and cold pressed olive oil.
Antonio, Antonio, I can’t work miracles my love. There is weetbix,

and at least I buy you milk. You piss me off, Antonio, your head
in my stomach like that, pushing and pushing. What am I? A lamppost
for a dog to sniff? A fencepost for a goat to ram? Antonio, I am
your stupid rotten mother: my hair is lank, my eyes are circled like mistakes.
I tell you for the last time, between clenched teeth, I cannot
work miracles
. Something’s going to snap, Antonio. I can’t say when.

Sue Wootton lives in Dunedin, where she writes, and is raising three children. Her poetry has been published in various journals and magazines, including the NZ ListenerPoetry New ZealandTurbine,JAAMBravadoTakahe and North & South. A first collection of poems will be released in 2005 by Steele Roberts.

Wootton comments: ‘One day, as I was rushing into a Countdown supermarket, five words hit me on the head. At least, that’s what it felt like. The words were: “I can’t work miracles, Antonio.”

‘This desperate little fragment of speech, coupled with the lovely name Antonio, pulled me up short. I glanced around and saw, just for a moment, the exhausted face of a young woman, and the rear view of a child. The child’s blond head was softly but insistently butting the mother in the stomach.

‘The words and the scene stayed with me all day while I did various jobs. Later I sat down to write, and “Countdown” emerged virtually fully formed on the page in front of me. I still wonder what miracle Antonio was asking for. I hope it happens.’

Poem source details >



New Zealand Book Council writer file
Steele Roberts Publications Ltd