All Tall Women

I am standing between two tall women. All through primary school, then intermediate, I was the tallest girl in my class, my mum letting out and out the hem of my uniform skirt. Striped tideline. Tree rings. Orbital routes. I stood in the back row for class photos, with the boys. Mum was always proud of this. As though all tall women are feminists. We have a secret glam-rock fightclub—we’re always finishing Erica Jong. I’d say I’m in the top 5-10% of women, height-wise. But these women are taller, with matching red hair; two columns that go up and around me, their eyes meeting over my head. Jane would be Doric: the sculptural severity of her cheekbones, gash of hair across her forehead, black tick at the outer corner of each eye; Morgan, Ionic: the wind still struggling to free itself from her hair; part of her fringe is sticking straight up while she’s browsing a book on ‘colorstrology’. With my ex across the room and the free wine already gone, you could say they’re my door frame to her earthquake. You could say every book in the store is another way our story might have ended, or gone on. You could say a lot of things: that the hotel room was cheap, that the death in the family was well timed, that the night I walked out was the last time I wore my favourite turquoise ring. There is something traumatic about book launches. I think I have accidentally caught the eye of the guy at the back selling the books so often I might have to buy a copy. I think of yoga today and how I was thinking of Cohen’s Lover Lover Lover when the instructor put her hand between my shoulders and breathed deliberately and loudly as my forehead rested against my knee. I think of how many airline accidents there have been lately and how the dark scarf of conspiracy theory hasn’t muffled the grief. The ancient ruins of bible-town. The pitfalls of prophecy. Someone is reading a love poem like it’s an obituary and when I look up, through the quake of concentrated shoulders, she’s looking straight at me.

Hannah Mettner is a Wellington-based poet from Gisborne. Her first collection, Fully Clothed and so Forgetful, was published by Victoria University Press in 2017, and was longlisted for the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She is co-editor with Morgan Bach and Sugar Magnolia Wilson of Sweet Mammalian, an online poetry journal launched in 2014.

Poem source details >


Hannah's Victoria University Press author page

Sweet Mammalian