With his hands on her hips
as if in an ice dance
he suggests in the tone
of a man who has just said,
let's move the blue armchair
closer to the window
so we can bring the hills
into the frame

let's have another baby

and it's like that moment
in the drink-sped conversation
at a bar in a town far from home
when the too-handsome stranger
drew out an edge of silver
like a ring to catch the light
then as gently as if a child dressed her neck
with threaded stalks, white petals

asked her how she liked her sex
pressing the knife's metal tongue
to the flicker at her throat

and it's the moment walking past
an unlit downtown doorway
when footsteps start their time-bomb tick
behind her:

stay calm, she thinks,
no sudden moves.

In 2009 Emma Neale was the inaugural recipient of the NZSA/Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. Her latest collection of poetry is Spark (Steele Roberts, 2008). She lives in Dunedin with her husband and their two sons.

Neale comments: 'Many women claim to feel complete once they have children. For others, there is instead a kind of violence done to their sense of identity with the birth of each new child, as every new arrival not only reconfigures the family, but also brings about a metamorphosis of almost every aspect of their existence. The protagonist in "Proposal" knows which kind of woman she is.'

Poem source details >



New Zealand Book Council writer file
Random House author page
Steele RobertsSpark
nzepc – New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre: online work
TFS: Anderson's Bay