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BooksJune 3, 2016

The Friday poem: “Feagaiga/ Covenant” by Tusiata Avia

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New verse by Auckland poet Tusiata Avia.

Feagaiga/ Covenant                     

I tell my brother about the boy at school

 

I make him tickle my back

and every time he stops

I tell him about the boy at school

who can do it

The Best In The World.

 

My brother and I are Siamese twins

 

I graft him to me

his pyjama holes to my buttons

and we sleep face to face.

When they try to lift me out

I keep my eyes shut

my mother has to call for help

the surgeon is delayed till morning.

 

Dad’s Army

 

Grandpa comes on Thursdays

when they are at counselling

he watches Dads Army.

My brother and I eat pancakes

I tell him how stupid he is

how much I hate him

and how I have hollowed out little caverns

in the pancakes and filled them with ants.

 

Love Boat

 

At 7pm on Wednesday night

when the Love Boat is on

they ask me who I think should get the house.

I make my brother an ice-cream sundae

with secret passages for the Resistance to hide in

I fill them with curry and chilli and shoe polish.

 

My brother goes missing

 

I check back-yard, front-yard, park, neighbours’

wardrobes, bathroom, toilet, wash house

I know deep down he is dead

and I am a bad person

I even ring my mother at Weight Watchers –

he turns up in the warming cupboard.

 

My brother doesn’t know what a magistrate is

 

We go to The Muppet Movie

and then Ice Castles

and then Bambi (again)

my brother eats too many ice castles

and falls asleep.

We walk back to the courthouse

which is by the tearooms

and I eat a custard square.

 

My brother goes next door

 

The girlfriend comes round

and won’t go away

and threatens to cut her wrists

with the windows or mayonnaise jars.

I tell my brother to go next door and stay there

I tell the girlfriend to go ahead and kill herself

but first , Get in the taxi, just get in the taxi.

 

The day we meet our other brother

 

At Bishopdale shopping mall

we all look the same

but he looks more like our father

and tells us his life is fine

as if we might be robbers

who will break into his house

and remove everything he has.

 

I take my friend round to my brother’s

 

I’m nervous about seeing him on my own

but he’s hungover and gentle

and shows us the tiny box of ashes.

His wife gets home with a new jacket

she puts the box back on its stand

So youve shown them our son? she says

and rips off all the buttons.

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

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