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BooksSeptember 17, 2021

The Friday Poem: Whāngai, by Jessie Puru

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

A new poem from Tāmaki Makaurau poet Jessie Puru.


Koro picked him up from the office they moved him to
still wet from the womb
sucking on his tongue waiting for mīraka,
mother still being stitched and sedated.

Koro wanted to slap
the social worker’s hand away from him
he took him back to the whare
in the night

His body was always slick
like he’d just emerged from an ocean.

They often found him paddling
or fending off creatures in his sleep

As an adolescent
his obsession for catching the biggest creature
from Tangaroa’s depths
grew bigger

“Careful out there” Koro would say
while his body blurred just past his vision
out the back door.

He’d pause, and lean up to face Koro
“You know I will be”
and held his aged face between his hands
before taking off again.


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will open again soon.

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