She listens
to your chest
with such

There’s all the loud
machinery of course
and June — do you mean the month
or her name?
Her name is inside you
and audible, and the dream, too,
in which you try to fax your publisher
a cake.

She hears us remember
the cats and their soft fur
birds going ape
in the trees.

She can hear
the domestic
rattle around
like small change —
cake call
from the oven,
sigh of the tired
pots and pans, rice
slip into water
like a swimmer.

She hears
your upset.
The watermelon bought
to cheer you up
from a place with an aisle
marked ‘instant dissolve food and drink’.

Erratic door,
a lack of iron,
the fence
creaking in the wind
like your knees.
Everything hurts
if you hitch a hip
says the physio
as her fingers wade
the river of muscle
which runs the bank
of your spine.

She hears your watch cough
politely, bellow of weather
appease the garden’s thirst.
Lone plum on the tree,
long soft body of the stick insect
traverse the rampant rose.

She hears the love you have
for your husband.

Hears you kiss the baby
then drive across town
in your pyjamas
in the early morning, past
planes in a queue
on the runway. The man who
leans across here, have a chocolate

Anger rise
like steam
off hot asphalt
on the runway.

Your friend, her dodgy
neck, her low

Listening, she can hear
the spades as they dig down
for the elderly beloved
cats. She hears children and adults
weep, ‘all things bright and
beautiful’ sung
over the graves,
then the car doors close
as we head
for the beach.
A week of sun, then
the weather moves on.
We don wetsuits
the dinghy rocks
on the porch
tree saws
on the roof
the baby says
no no no no 
and refuses to get
to her feet.

All night
insects flip and click
while the wind roars

suck and blow
suck and blow

and the curtains rattle
on their tracks.

Jenny Bornholdt is the current Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate. Her most recent collection is Summer (Victoria University Press, 2003). A new collection, Mrs Winter’s Jump, is forthcoming from Godwit. In 2005 she co-edited the anthology, The Colour of Distance — New Zealand Writers in France, French Writers in New Zealand.

Bornholdt comments: ‘ “Medical” was written at a time when I and various other friends and family members were suffering from ill-health. I hope the poem conveys how this coloured many aspects of our lives.’

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