It was the year of the caved-in ceiling.
Water ran through everything and brought down the attic with it.
Everyone was sure that the rain would have to stop one of these days,
and still it sluiced down, right through the roof
and the duvets
and finally into the carpet
leaving a dark smell that never left and a stain
so symmetrical it could only be an omen.
It was the year that everyone stopped joking about running away
because by then the city had come up to meet them
and it also wasn’t as funny anymore.
You paid rent on a house with a decaying staircase
and rivers streamed down the windows and through the sodden lawn,
a good environment for pūhā,
but we didn’t realise it was there till we’d moved again.
It was the year of the election
and birds made strange formations on the powerlines,
the kākā calling in tones still more doomed than usual,
screeching auguries that foretold of
nothing that we didn’t already know for certain.

Loretta Riach is an artist and writer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. You can read their poems in previous issues of takahē, as well as Sweet Mammalian, Starling, Minarets, and Mayhem. They are a facilitator at play_station artist-run space.