Kid Gloves

After the painting ‘White Gloves’ by Eion Stevens


She declined wine
said she was tired
asked for tisanes, teas

the words breaking open
like the glass sides
of hard sweets
or savoured like the names 
of exotic locations
she’d never dreamed she’d reach
and yet now, the frangipanis, this humidity,
the scent of cardamom from latticed windows…

Of course it wasn’t the dark, russet tide
of the leaves that told us

nor the folded peaks of her hands
white as the gloves
of an illusionist,
or rare manuscripts custodian,

but the way 
like a game of slow bees
creeping from their honeybox
her fingers slipped 
and slipped again
from one another’s grip

as if to shield, or sound, 
the shifts and murmurs
beneath the teapot’s 
pregnant mound.

Emma Neale is the author of four novels and three collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Spark (Steele Roberts, 2008). She was a recipient of the Todd New Writers’ Bursary in 2000, and acted as selecting editor for Creative Juices: new writing (Auckland: Flamingo 2002) and for Best New Zealand Poems 2004. In 2008 she releases an anthology called Swings and Roundabouts: Poems on Parenthood (Random House), which includes work from poets such as Jenny Bornholdt, Les Murray, Seamus Heaney, Brian Turner and Lauris Edmond. Emma lives in Dunedin with her husband and their son, where she works for Longacre Press, and coordinates the University of Otago poetry workshop.

Neale comments: ‘ “Kid Gloves” came about in response to two separate things. One was a remark from a colleague, who said she found she was in love with teapots during the final months of her pregnancy; the other was seeing a photo of the Eion Stevens painting, “White Glove”. These two things seemed to draw each other together into a poem. It’s a little fiction that grew from a mother and a father fact.’

Poem source details >



Penguin Books author profile
Steele Roberts: Spark
New Zealand Book Council writer file
TFS—The writer’s place: Emma’s Books
Work by Eion Stevens