The Terrific Beating of My Heart

And I realised
I had come to the emergency room
for company.
To avoid the metal clang of home.
The paramedic said: 'That'll do it,
that kind of trauma.'
with a fantastic Irish lilt,
and arranged for a tray of breakfast.
His quick hands like doves
over my forearms.

Wes Lee lives in Wellington. Her latest poetry collection By the Lapels was launched in 2019 (Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2019). Her work has appeared in a wide array of literary journals and anthologies in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, including Southword, Westerly, Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, Poetry London, New Writing Scotland, The London Magazine, The Stinging Fly, Silence: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's Poetry Prize Anthology 2019, The New Zealand Listener, Australian Poetry Journal, Breach of all Size: Small stories on Ulysses, love and Venice. She has won a number of awards for her writing including The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award, and The Bronwyn Tate Memorial Award. Most recently she was selected as a finalist for the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018, awarded the Poetry New Zealand Prize 2019 by Massey University Press, and shortlisted for The NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2021. She is the featured poet in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2022.

Lee comments: 'My partner underwent an operation during which his kidney had to be removed unexpectedly. After nine hours in surgery he was not coming round from the anaesthetic and the anaesthetist had to be called back to the hospital. The traumatic nature of this event triggered my own heart condition. I landed in A&E at midnight undergoing my own treatment.

'All of the events happened, "the facts" are medical.

'"The Terrific Beating of My Heart" offers a transformation of these facts into something that operates at a different vibrational level than the gyre of raw trauma. Highlighting the care that often appears in surprising ways.'

​Poem source details >


Wes Lee's website

New Zealand Society of Authors page

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer file

Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2022: Featured Poet