If you are an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh

I am carving dirty hieroglyphics
into the wall of your tomb.
If you are a dead French aristocrat
I am the suspicious circumstances
surrounding your death.
If you are a shape shifting wizard
I am the shape you are shifting into.
If you are a fast moving cloud
I am an entire field of deer
looking up.
If you are a sceptical cop
I am a haunted fax machine.
If you are a catapult
I am the medieval knight
you are catapulting.
I fly over the dark fields of my enemies
corkscrewing the dawn.
This is what missing you feels like.
Without you I am just
the suspicious circumstances
surrounding nothing.
Without you I am just
a regular medieval knight
settling ongoing tenancy disputes
and doing other knight related activities
like dying thousands of years ago.
I rise from the grave to lean
like a ancient wind against your house.
Your roof a red eyelid
closed against the sky.

When I’m not with you I am like
a lonely wrestler with nobody to break chairs on.
When you take off your clothes
the whole room darkens to light you.
Your nakedness a pale kite

I want to take you to the river that runs behind my house
and show you where the dark water vanishes between the rocks,
but I can’t
because nothing runs behind my house
not even a lonely commercial highway.
I want to stand with you
on the edge of a lonely commercial highway
waiting for the jumper cables
that will restart this engine
and take us somewhere far beyond
the confines of this poem.

I need to have a reason
for the aisles of trees we sailed through
and your hand on my knee in reckless disregard
for road safety recommendations.
I need to have a reason
for so many nights of watching you recede from me
like the ass end of a horse
in the credits of a western.
I need to have a reason
for drinking beer in your parents’ swimming pool at night
and how you lay face down in the water
like a body in a celestial crime scene.
The stars like so many knives
in the small of your back.

Photo by Russell Kleyn

Hera Lindsay Bird is a poet from Wellington. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters where she won the 2011 Adam Prize for best manuscript. Her debut self-titled collection, Hera Lindsay Bird, was published in 2016 with Victoria University Press, where it has been reprinted several times. 

Poem source details >


Heras Victoria University Press author page
Heras website