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BooksNovember 12, 2021

The Friday Poem: I can’t stand the rain, by Vanessa Mei Crofskey

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A new poem from poet and artist Vanessa Mei Crofskey.

I can’t stand the rain

Standing on a steep street in Ōtepoti I hear late-night laughter wafting from inside a flat party,
like occasional puffs of smoke. It’s that time of night where your crew get over the clinking beer
bottles and the annoying oversharing white girls tryna link arms and you think to each other
psychically let’s cut our losses and order an Uber outta here. Now that we’ve gapped it tho we
have to hunch inwards as a group to preserve our precious warmth cuz it feels like zero degrees
outside. It’s Dunedin, it probably is. We wait hurriedly for our cab and text the driver eta?,
freezing our asses off but too stubborn to go back in.

I forgot ‘til I moved back to Pōneke how cold my home city is. All the girls grit their teeth and
bare their cleavage bravely. They walk in tight circles, shielding their hair from the rain.
Sometimes we cross paths when my night-out is at its ending, and theirs is just beginning. The
arctic wind whips around the street, hollering and howling like a fucking baby. Crews of girls
shapeshift from nightclub to nightclub, wearing short skirts and skimpy tops held up by strings
underneath their big fuck-off fur coats. Crowds of policemen eye them each wearily, with nothing
better to do than growl and provoke.

The season drips around me. It’s cold, damn cold to the bone, so cold I sober up immediately.

I squat on the sidewalk in my red silk party dress with my hemline all wet, which got dragged
along the concrete. I’m shivering under this leather jacket, imagining my red lipstick could be
warm as warehouse faux mink. I just have to cope until I’m in my dressing robes. My fingers
have gone numb on my phone when the right license plate finally pulls up on the opposite side
of the road. My flatmates and I pile into the backseat, clutching our bags and belongings. We fall
into silence with our hands between our knees, shivering and staring out the window. The city
turns into blips of light. Curls of hair fall onto the seat belt. I hear light snoring. At the speed
bump my friend jerks awake.

My high school principal used to repeatedly say that young women these days have no
resilience. I dare anyone to see throngs of full made-up faces proudly repping themselves on a
Friday with no intention to cave and go home early. I have to salute anyone who’s got goals and
determination. Missy Elliot was right though. Me, I just can’t stand the rain.

 

The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are welcome and will be open until 31 December 2021. Please send up to three poems to chris@christse.co.nz.

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