Journey Through Time in 5 Digits

5. Pinky

We grew up in bowls
a bowl of weetbix
a BMX track, cambered inwards
a cupped hand – kiwisport cricket ball – ouch
Curtis St valley
Te Whanganui ā Tara
We’re at the centre of an ampitheatre
All eyes on
And then
I discover the world is round 
But not in that way

4. Rangitukia Station

A Mare
sleepy, hips rolling left, right, her sweat and ours mingle
me and Lu, the mātaamua and the pōtiki, 
riding barefoot, bareback on Belle
back to the homestead, pipis and blackberries for tea
Sideways we slip
Lu’s fingers still interlocked around my waist
As we hit the greywacke road
Our cousin crrraaacks up at the city slickers riding the ground
It’s summer. My fists close around her 
mane and we get 
back on

A Huntaway 
thunders through the gate
Uncle Albert Red Bands it after him
By Curry!
it’s A Dog’s Show, but PG-13
a piece of mānuka from the woodpile 
with uncle’s hand and zaps through the air towards Niho…         a miss!
…who tucks his head down and high tails it under the house
                                                    cumere ya mongrel!
…as mānuka smashes the ute’s headlight
                                                                  a hit!

A Sheep 
In the woolshed
Uncle grabs a ewe and before we know it
he’s drawn a knife across its neck
It kicks out and slows 
The blood gurgles
Hira’s fainted on the floor of the stall
he was always the gentle one
‘Shall I call your mum?’ Uncle asks me ‘Nah. She’ll just worry.’
We slurp on boiled mutton neck chops for tea
and toast sliced white bread 
with a blanket of butter 
of course
Hira gets a duvet

five of us
hungry as
a sweaty horse
tight as
a dog with a bone
happy as
flies on sheep brains

3. Franz Josef Glacier

Ice splinters Rock
Rock bruises Flesh
Flesh melts Ice
but you think twice 
about this
as you reach out to touch the pale
pale blue face of

2. Did you mean?

I type ‘I mate i te ata tonu’
Microsoft responds 
I mate it eat a ton. U? 
I submit ‘Glocalising’
The editor responds
We assumed you meant globalising 
I type ‘Indigenizing the Academy’
LCONZ (powered by Google) responds
Did you mean ‘Antagonizing the Academy’? 
Scritti scriblitti traducerais incredulosity
Can I have the language of origin? 
Kia ora. Kia kaha. Kia manawanui. 
Mean Māori Mean.

1. Damage

In Tianjin
I can hold the sun between my thumb and forefinger
and examine it with 
naked eyes
In Te Ika a Māui
I daren’t
In this part of the world 
Tama Nui te Rā and us 
have history

Rānui Taiapa is a Ngāti Porou living in Wellington. She is a sporadic writer at best, describing her creative writing as ‘like vomiting’. She has previously published one short story, ‘Giving Way’, in Huia Short Stories 6, and has been a finalist in the Pikihuia Awards for Māori Writers for her short film scripts Road Warrior and I Ngā Wā o Mua. She has also made a short documentary film about rooftop fresh water collection in Samoa, Falelima: Vai o le Ola. ‘Journey Through Time in 5 Digits’ is her first published poem.

Taiapa comments: ‘“Journey Through Time in 5 Digits” was published in Landfall’s 2011 environment-themed issue, but it took three years to write. I wrote “Franz Josef Glacier” in 2007 after visiting the West Coast of Te Wai Pounamu with writing friends. At the foot of that wave of ice I was struck by the threat the glacier posed to the human body, yet, paradoxically, how it was human actions (such as burning of fossil fuels) that had diminished it. “Damage” came to me years later after I experienced looking directly at the sun in urban China, and then hiding under layers of sunscreen in Aotearoa. In “Rangitukia Station” and “Pinky” I explore the land’s fingerprints on me. “Did you Mean?” is the finger-pointing piece of the bunch. Don’t ask me what it means. The original title of this suite was “12345: A Prelude for Beginner’s Piano”. Don’t ask me what that means, either.’

Poem source details >



Vai o le Ola (Water of Life): Falelima (video)