Ashlee-Ann Sneller

Ashlee-Ann Sneller completed a BA at the University of Auckland majoring in English and Criminology, with an honours in Criminology. She’s currently a government employee who writes poetry in her sleep and wakes up occasionally published in places like Turbine, Re-Draft, Poetry Box, Craccum and was shortlisted in the top ten for the Divine Muses Poetry Award.

This poem is dedicated to Kereta Tatana. Thank you for pushing me, for supporting my poetry, and for being so completely full of life. Rest easy my friend.


#460 Creatures, undiscovered


and he drowned while
                                        diving for kina –
seaweed is sprouting from my heart

tangling and wrapping
                                        around my lungs; there’s hardly any air.
When I cry it bubbles past my face,
hands reach to catch them –
I’m not entitled to these pockets of air,
I shouldn’t feel this lost in the
depths and yet as days pass,
                                                  I realise the ocean is deeper than we thought
                                                                                                                                    there are creatures
undiscovered and clawed

                                              I’m swimming haphazardly, which way
                                                                                                                  is up and which way is


The tangi is a boat that moors me,
and the seaweed loosens just enough
                                                                                                                                for me to grip the edge –
the waiata sings me free and I beg
                                                            for the whānau to rip the kina spines
                                                                                                                                out of my skin. We sail to a
shore that’s closer than I first thought.

My blood
trickles on the sand,
I smell of seaweed and ocean spray. 

It’s as I wipe the sand from my eyes that I see him, a taniwha as grand as a whale but as delicate as
a dolphin. He sings of eating the seaweed and it’s then I realise I’m untangled; that my grief has
changed from crashing waves to

                                                          soft lapping. 

It’s on the beach I soak in the fact that he’s the kaitiaki he was always meant to be, that he’s finally