Two Poems

Seal on the field

We walked the dog down the road
to the bus stop and started along
the path to Martin Wilson field.
Something barked loudly at us.
A dark shape, lying in the bushes.
A seal! We called the DOC number.
Press 1 for seal sightings. Leave the seal
alone and let nature take its course.
I took photos on my phone, and we
continued to the cafe. What was it
doing in Remuera? We wondered.
Was it here for an open home? Was
it squatting to protest the government
ruling out a wealth tax? On the way
back I asked if we could look at the
seal again. Is it dead? You asked.
No, it’s just sleeping.

The mandarin

Life crunches between my serrated teeth, grains drooling down my chin. I am like a black bear at a rotting whale carcass. The body wants to endure, despite everything. The weeds grow tall in the empty building site. The sun wilts lower on the horizon. Old wounds scab over and new hairs burst forth.

In the beautiful predawn darkness I am sheathed, quiet as a cat. I am padding around the corridors. Diffracted eroticisms man the doors. I lie in bed and sleep evades me. Have you ever noticed how ducks sound like they are laughing? It feels like they’re laughing at me. I ring you—upset and wanting. You say you are hungover and will visit tomorrow. I am able to shower by myself and I do so before your visit. You bring a mandarin, which you peel and segment for me—getting rid of the pith. As tender a gesture as ever. I say you don’t have to come to my discharge meeting and you say I have nothing better to do.

Elliot Harley McKenzie (they/them) is a queer Pākehā poet living in Tāmaki Makaurau. Other places they have been published include Starling, Tarot, Ōrongohau | Best New Zealand Poems, and Sweet Mammalian.