"Interlude in Northern New Zealand"

LateHW today: a poem by Kayla Tostevin.

"I wrote this on vacation almost two years ago. The (non)relationship didn’t ultimately work out the way I wanted it to, so it sounds a little foolish in some ways  now, knowing what would actually happen when I returned from New Zealand. But this poem captured my feelings well at the time, so it’s got that kind of photographic importance to it" -KT




"Interlude in Northern New Zealand"


I lost the bottom of my stomach

somewhere on the familiar side

of the Pacific—somewhere

in yesterday, since this island exists

eighteen hours ahead of you and the us

you left up in the air again. So I filled

the extra space with lantern festival

lights from paper dragons furious

and fragile, with the untranslated

stamping roar of the Maori war dance

haka, with the rumbling ocean toss

of great surfacing whales, and with

an unseasonable wind that screamed

all through tomorrow night.


Hours after your sunset, I accepted

a cup of something sweet and hot

and orange enough to be sunrise

in the black Waitomo caves, icy water

pouring through a hole in my boot,

tiny worm-made stars pricking the dark,

everything smelling like old rock

and isolation, and this drink

was the only part of the tour the guide

did not tell us the name for, but

I recognized it settling in my gut.


All my souvenirs except that one

spilled out and shattered

on some Auckland sidewalk,

and cicadas crawled in, buzzing

their shrill, surging electricity.

They carried the uncertain kind

of certainty that washed over me

when I jumped off a bridge tied

to my ankles. On my way back

to winter covered in sunburns,

on my way home to yesterday,

time-shaken, I found the lost

bottom of my stomach and pressed

it into place, trapping the insistent

insects and the drinkable sun, saving

them for the next time we talk about us.




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