Hawkeye V4

She leaves her shoes at the door


dresses in blue


and bares her vein
for the radioactive tracer
which, inherently unstable,
will almost certainly
collapse in on itself
and begin to break down.


Above, the unforgettable name
of the machine.

To her left, a panel
of cobalt, crimson and gold:
a sideshow should
the power supply fail.

To her right, coded instructions
should the computer
and irresistible chemistry
develop a stammer
or taste for adventure.


Feet first, she slides
into the revolving hum
of the camera —

sun one minute,
stars the next —

and, courtesy of the control room,
National Radio with
the trial testing of toxic gases,

fewer groceries
in the family basket

and the News Headlines at Twelve
counting down
to Microsoft’s warning
of a critical flaw
in its software.

Stephanie de Montalk was born in 1945. She lives in Wellington. A former nurse, documentary film maker, video censor and member of the New Zealand Film and Literature Board of Review, she came to writing late. Her three collections of poetry, published by Victoria University Press, are Animals Indoors, which won the Jessie Mackay Best First Book of Poetry at the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, The Scientific Evidence of Dr Wang (2003) and Cover Stories (2005).

She is the author of Unquiet World: the Life of Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk (2002) which was also published in Polish translation by Jagiellonian University Press (2003), and a novel, The Fountain at Bakhchisaray, after Alexander Pushkin’s poema of the same name, to be published in 2006. Her most recent work, a personal essay, ‘Pain’, appears in Sport 33. She was the 2005 Creative New Zealand/Victoria University Writer in Residence.

Montalk comments: ‘I wrote this poem from notes scribbled immediately after undergoing a bone scan. I had been somewhat apprehensive about the procedure – performed in a Department of Nuclear Medicine – in the way one often is, surrendering to the mercies of strangers and machines. In the event, I lay quite comfortably, albeit on full alert, in the scanner (‘Hawkeye V4’) listening to National Radio – beamed in from the control room – while the apparatus revolved and hummed in response to the radiologist who was entering his instructions into a computer: I lay comfortably, that is, until a preview of the news headlines announced Microsoft’s discovery of a critical flaw in its software.’

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