from 'Echidna'

echidna: born of eve and lucifer

they meet underneath the apples on the sabbath to fuck in the bushes
she couldn’t help but love it when the forked tongue made an electric feast
of her soft flesh          such a division she never felt while being another man’s
rib             she knows all the scales in the world         and knows the snake is
a liar               but why shouldn’t she be able to have some fun     while it lasts
and adam is as thick as a post anyway           always finishing too fast
with adam        she was a way             for the first man to jack himself off
the serpent       cared about her     pleasure        at least


echidna: half woman half snake

she lies in the desert her twin tails stretched out       split out underneath her
she travels miles and miles and miles      living off the dust of the land
thanking her great grandmother for      the food
oh Papatūānuku how good are thou           how good
she makes it to the coast      the sun plays with the chop of the wave
she takes to the water to pledge   allegiance to her great-grandfather Tangaroa
a daughter of Tū-te-wehiwehi     he had to have a Pākehā name didn’t he?
Sat on         what did he sit on?          she admits she could have misheard
as she floats nymphal in the

essay may ranapiri (photo credit: Emily Duke)

Photo by Emily Duke

essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga | takatāpui; they/them/ theirs) is a poet from Kirikiriroa. They have words in Mayhem, Poetry NZ, Brief, Starling, THEM and POETRY Magazine, and their debut collection ransack will be published by Victoria University Press in 2019.

ranapiri comments: ‘This is a part of a longer poem that explores femininity, gender and belonging using the Greek mother of monsters. This idea was inspired by Tayi Tibble’s use of the Medusa in her lyric essay Poūkahangatus. There was something that clicked about taking these traditions and running them through each other, Greek, Māori and Christian. Often as tangata takatāpui I feel alienated and contradictory (unsettled in body unsettling in public and full of snakes) and Echidna gives me an outlet to explore this without feeling like I’m bleeding on the page; which I feel like I've done too much of already.

​Poem source details >

essa mays website