Best New Zealand Poems 2002
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Anicë’s world

The night we gave Anicë her first bath,
the Americans bombed Kabul.

We were safe with family in Devon,
staying in a small thatched cottage –
the front room was as compact as a bunker,
the low ceiling had dark beams
and thick cob walls sheltered us
from a wind that butted at the door.

We stared at the blue screen
flickering with sick stars,
and then, as an antidote,
turned our backs on the world
and laid a towel, a bath
and Anicë’s new clothes on a table.

We unwrapped her from her layers
like a game of pass-the-parcel.

The ratio was in her favour –
five adults to a scrap of life
just five days old, whose body
shone like a leaf in the rain.

It was a kind of baptism
into a temporal world.

All Anicë knew was fractured light,
the murmur of our voices –
little darling     little one
and the thin sweet thread of milk
from Rebecca’s nipple, flaring
over her like a dark constant sun.

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