Autumn is the season
for suitcases.
Leaves and leaving.

Each morning I stand at my wardrobe
trying to pack quickly, lightly.
Each night I empty bags onto the floor
and fall asleep.

The tiny clenched muscle,
like your little fists,
the beat of it
says we should have been okay.
Five per cent.
We should have been okay.

Autumn is the season
for being left behind.
I miss your departure,
too busy buying baby
clothes. Take a taxi home
and eat three packets
of two-minute noodles.

‘Broken’ is what they’ve named you.
My body rids itself
of tissue.
The heartbeat.
The fists.
You weren’t holding on.

Winter is the season
for staying in bed,
the wind crying to be changed,
the fridge needing to be fed.

Photo by Stina Persen

Ish Doney was born in Subiaco, Australia, grew up in Christchurch, and considers Wellington ‘home’. She is currently living in the Netherlands. Ish has a degree in photography from Massey University, and is still working out what to do with it. She has one collection of poetry, Where the fish grow, which was published by Mākaro Press in 2016.

Ish comments: ‘I was studying photography at Massey University and taking a creative writing paper for the love of it. My first two years at uni I worked weekend nights as a cleaner at Wellington hospital. One of my areas was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU. This is where newborn babies who are sick or premature are cared for. There were a couple of cribs, but most of the babies were in incubators. Tiny, tiny, bird-like creatures, with all of these machines beeping around them.

It must have been terrifying for the parents, but there was so much love in those hospital rooms. The nurses who cared so much and worked so hard, some of them had become nurses because their own babies had been in these incubators, and they had felt the intense uselessness of only being able to watch.

‘I started dreaming about babies, half the time I didn't know they were there until halfway through the dream, when I would find them freezing cold in my jacket pocket, or realise I'd left them behind at the movies. Around this time my class had a writing exercise, to write a poem titled “Miscarriage” and a longer version of this poem is what came out of it. I edited it down a lot when it came to publishing, and then ummed and ahhed about what it meant not to be the “I” in this poem, when I am in so many of my others. My mother really went to bat for it, saying it spoke to her own experiences. So here it is.’

Poem source details >


Ishs Cargo Collective page