Spring 2017




Three poems

By Erica Stretton

Erica Stretton
© Erica Stretton

On Breathing

There is no air in me, she says
blank-img.pngher flushed cheeks turned away
blank-img.pngno air for words
blank-img.pngthe night presses in on us

I overdose her ignore the prescription label
blank-img.pngwhen she blank-img.pngstops talking
blank-img.pngI run a red light

no way to mirror blank-img.png the receptionist’s calm
the poundingblank-img.pngmy heartbeat counters
blank-img.pngthe doctor’s running feet

finger pinch, they say—it won’t hurt
blank-img.pngbut she is asleep

under the mask
cheeks flush slowly and droplets enter the lungs
blank-img.pngventolin - steroids - pale lifesaver rings
blank-img.png she can take the mask home if she likes
blank-img.pngdo we need a reminder in the dress up box?

one day you may be too slow

there are too many of these instances
blank-img.pngprescribe something else/dehumidify your house/can we refer to a specialist/keep her warm/don’t take her out in the night/no swimming in winter

but she ran the cross country last week
and only needed water


Wearing sweats, the hurling rejection of vomit
rhythmic swash and twirl of sheets around
the grain of my skin prickly, roughened by handsoap

A radiating heat + an internal pressure cooker
blank-img.pngpetal touch of infant skin
seek comfort with throttling arms

wind flutters, falling into the chimney
baby smile like a light behind a curtain
waterfall of bodily fluids
blank-img.pngtumble tumble
lemonade on your breath, acrid

If I could escape
blank-img.pngwould I truly be your mother, again
with the prickle of rain on my eyelashes, the prickle of moisture
the wind’s warmth my friend
it murmurs urgency: mummy, mummy...

A Feast Made for the City

The table is set, a side of lamb, potatoes roasted to perfection
but we are underneath

A whisper behind the sideboard, horseradish sauce sliding down the tablecloth and dripping
a fork forced into wood. A wave wobbles through the ceiling
dust takes hold, shuffling in past nose hairs
can we see the cracks


oh so deep
blank-img.pngcrackled riverbed

I feel the solidity
blank-img.pngof the earth against my cheek

is dead blank-img.pngin the corner

we were unbroken
now we are making casseroles without water

My mother retreats to her kitchen,
And before she has finished there are fifteen boxes of biscuits ready, ready, ready

Will there be cucumber sandwiches
I fancy a bit of crunch

blank-img.pngfor neighbours
For the dispossessed
Cut. Like a swathe of acupuncture needles
This is the food of dust.

Can we book a table for seventeen and hope the cracks don’t follow
blank-img.png…. And then you came, blue, but without the fine cobwebs that covered the faces of those who ate
blank-img.pngthrough the cracks
blank-img.pngbut you knew nothing and you laughed

About Erica Stretton

Erica is a librarian and mother-of-three who has worked in New Zealand and the UK and is now settled in Ellerslie, Auckland. In between dealing with vomiting bugs, and writing a steady stream of amusing anecdotes about her children online, she has been taking undergraduate writing papers at the University of Auckland over the last year and is hoping to return to librarianship in 2019.