Semira Davis is a writer whose work appears in Landfall, Takahe, Ika, Blackmail Press, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, Scum, and Phantom Billstickers Café Reader. She is a mentee in the NZSA Mentorship Programme 2019, where she is completing a collection of poetry.



It’s different in Sandringham. The backyard doesn’t blend into paddocks that blend into hilltop horizons crested with pine and native bush. It smells of fresh spice, and the taped up glass in the unit’s kitchen window stands out against the glossy paint of the concrete wall. Sandringham lacks stars – there’s not enough to satisfy the eyes locked on the sky, but it’s all they can do. The friends are sitting outside searching that muted orange mud covered worker’s vest sky reflecting city lights. The milky edged constellations from their youth are gone. There’s a rasp from the lighter, a gurgle of water. 

“My mum sent me a message…”

“So did mine.”

“Said he’s arrested.” Rasp. “Asked if he ever touched me.” Gurgle.


“Guess I’m lucky he only liked boys.”

“Guess I’m lucky I didn’t go to your school.”

Silence, and looking for stars.

“Do you think it’s why Michael killed himself back then?”

The backyard is bisected by a fence tall enough to block the neighbours, its warped wood reminiscent of a different horizon. Another hit, but they still can’t meet their eyes. The smoke drifts away like prayer lanterns released to act as stars.