(A lifetime of sentences)

Soon, I could leave my body without prompts. The artist’s concept of the birth of a star, or I broke my name until the fibres separated and lost their coats. My thirst for windows kept me indoors. My gaze wandered across the suburbs of childhood, faces stammering with shyness, bodies masquerading as furniture. Initial mass and luminosity determine duration, but my sensibility comes to require an object. Here, the word “system” implies a level of certainty that is unwarranted. Some of those memories were not written by me, so they are memos, at home on my desk, but still authoritative. Now, instead of a pupil, there’s a screensaver. It was late. The room was empty. A lifetime of sentences which at first glance seem superfluous, but whose value is later understood. One thing leads to a mother. Soon enough, a flock of children came running and tapped on the glass. When I reached the bottom of the stares, I looked up.

Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle has a BA from the University of Auckland and will complete an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University’s IIML in 2012. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as LandfallTurbineHue & CrySnorkel (Aus), Otoliths (Aus), Colorado Review (US), and St. Petersburg Review (US). She has been the featured poet for Poetry NZ and a fine line. In Auckland, she has been a guest reader for Poetry Live, nzepc’s Lounge series, and Rhythm & Verse.

Butcher-McGunnigle comments: ‘This poem comes from a longer sequence of prose poems concerning cycles of belief, life scripts, anxiety, and disease (dis-ease). Each sentence can be a complete story on its own, as well as coming into play with preceding and following sentences, and with the larger narrative framework of the paragraph. There are many ways for readers to enter the poem and they need to make their own leaps and connections. One “reading” could be that this poem is about a person who is looking back on their life and reflecting.’

Poem source details >



New Zealand Poetry Society website