Laughter makes the river rise better than her rain

    Kelly eats the pastry not the mince and Accidentally Kelly Street

               is her song and we take acid and walk to the beach but on different sides

           of the street because its so funny what shes thinking, its so, so funny

       Later we fall asleep in Nanas conservatory and wake baking in glitter

                    I take my cousins to the gardens to feed the ducks and the brightness stays


   Kelly says you never spit you are a lady

       Kelly says lets get away from her shes boring

           Kelly says were hitching, it was so fun hitching, she laughs

    I was terrified tho and then theres more laughing followed by cackling

                   And I insist NO, you were there until she remembers being the trouble horse


Kelly puts on Get Free by Major Lazer, Kelly is child free tonight and we split tall cans

       of bourbon, I show her the little whare I am making for my dead grandfather

   I explain my dolphin religion to her, she is dancing to Get Free by her fourth can

          because reincarnation is boring

I watch the music video over and over after she leaves

                                                       especially the man stroking his bantam

        the girls twisting into the road like screws

               & especially the boys

                   making the blue knocking motion of bells in their dance

I tell Kelly the Zumba videos she posts on Facebook make me happy to be alive

          but she doesnt believe me


               You can trace the world by the pattern of the snakes skin cant you?

    Diamonds are just straight lines afraid of their kinks

                    or the time I pulled Kellys hair and punched her when I shouldnt have

and much wiser blood, hers, keeping its heat and saying its okay

          beside me in the gutter, and it is now, 22 years later because Im laughing

and asking her if anyone knows shes Māori in Gisborne,    if they can tell

          I mean maybe they can tell just by the way we dance

Image of Talia MarshallTalia Marshall (Ngāti Kuia/Rangitāne ō Wairau/Ngāti Rārua/Ngāti Takihiku) is a poet and essayist with one son and one dog who has a poetry collection forthcoming from Kilmog Press titled Bad Apple. This year she is writing about Ans Westras photographs of Māori as part of her Emerging Māori Writers Residency at Victoria University. Her essay titled This Is the Way He Walked Into the Darkest, Pinkest Part of the Whale and Cried Don’t Tell the Others was quoted on the cover of POETRY magazines February 2018 Aotearoa issue.

Marshall comments: Kelly is one of my oldest friends and I was staying in Gisborne after quite a fraught time in my life and couldnt get over how lucky I am that we are still friends after almost 30 years and that by chance we also happened to be in the same place. I love her to bits and she is the fun one. Plus I decided there are not enough poems about female friendship so I thought I better have a go, lately Ive been writing quite a few poems about my old friends so maybe thats my genre. This poem has a bit of an underbelly too, its not just nice, but thats my contribution. Forgiveness can be a rare and beautiful thing which is what Im trying to get at with the dance.

​Poem source details >


POETRY magazine Aotearoa issue (February 2018)