I’m overconfident with cheap hairdressing scissors
in the kitchen           under the electric light
             with the blinds down
to save the moths some bewilderment
                            piles of hair dot the linoleum
               small brown mammals for whom
                                                                     we are now responsible

outside              the rest of the world is making decisions
               and acting on them
and I’m here thinking about how romantic it is
                        to own half a fridge

we dream we can keep out the weather
             by keeping the windows shut
                                        and down the street
                                        so does everybody else

             as the lens widens
                           the centre pulls back
see the line of apartments each with kitchen lights on
              somebody sautés onions in a frying pan
and empties the skins            brown and round
                            into the compost

someone rinses their rice
              the water-turned-to-milk swirling down the drain
somebody else finds a spider in the bathroom
and transfers it to the back step alive
              their hands shake but they still
have to live with themselves

the scissors curve around your ear
              and bring themselves back together
with a metallic whisper
                           tiny shards of clipped hair cling
             to the skin as if magnetised

we get through the evening              it doesn’t save us
but it does not mean nothing
                           the weight of the blinds pull on the string
              the spiders dart into the dark

Ash Davida Jane is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently How to Live With Mammals (Te Herenga Waka University Press). She has been widely published in journals in New Zealand and overseas, and won second place in the 2021 Laurel Prize for a collection of ecological poetry. Jane is an editor for We Are Babies Press, and a regular book reviewer on Radio New Zealand. She lives and works in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Jane comments: 'In 2019, I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Mt Victoria, Wellington, with my partner at the time. We were both doing our Masters degrees. We didn't have a lot of money, so instead of paying a professional to do it I gave us haircuts in the kitchen that was barely big enough for the fridge. Our friends joked that we had the same hair because I only knew how to cut it into one style. Whenever I read this poem again I'm right back in that kitchen.'

​Poem source details >


Ash Davida Jane's website

Te Herenga Waka University Press author page

Photographer credit: Ebony Lamb