High levels of fish dumping have been found in another leaked MPI report (Getty Images)
High levels of fish dumping have been found in another leaked MPI report (Getty Images)

BooksJanuary 19, 2018

The Friday Poem: ‘How to woo your husband’ by Selina Tusitala Marsh

High levels of fish dumping have been found in another leaked MPI report (Getty Images)
High levels of fish dumping have been found in another leaked MPI report (Getty Images)

New verse by the poet laureate of New Zealand, Selina Tusitala Marsh.


How To Woo Your Husband


I will sing a Song of Solomon upon you

whose very teeth I thought I knew

whose rate of calcification was by my very calculation

worked out these 21 years of marriage through

from my own jawbone they grew


and yet


I hold up a mirror

invert what I know to be true

years digging dark quartz

rock hewn crystal

precious stone frictioned

till shining mineral

after 21 years

I finally see you

I see you in me

a gasp from the shadows

stepping free

like Twilight’s Edward

an emancipatory move

into the sun

diamond skin sheen

when you spoke of us

as one

as my immortal destiny

I’ve been Bella-rized

mesmerised when you

prized apart

your chest

offered me the rest

rib, muscle, heart, lungs — your very breath.


O how sweet the name of husband became


when you turned in bed

from the tongueless dark

sang the song of your heart

where my name became the score

and it came with the passion

of Anais Anin

who in ’47 journalled

erotic connection and we connected



O how I love thee, let me rap the ways:


each tear caught by the ocean

set in motion any Titanic doubt

I had about your love

your words

mountainous icebergs

ripping a chunk from the ship

that could not be sunk

I watch my doubts play

on the tipping deck

a stringed quartet slides

it must abide the 45 degree slope

a baby grand plays on in hope

as violins and drums

collapse and succumb

to the tilting of the ship’s deck

my doubts

they are wrecked

sink beneath the abyss


because like the sea

you now see me

in salty purification

your words

tsunami me


us, we were foraging

on a barren shore

picking morsels off the dry

seabed floor

scraping rock for muscle, oyster

prying crevice for sweet

seaweed for the poor

clutching a stranded fish or two

left in a forgotten rock pool

as if the ocean had forgotten

her name

as if this alien land

was the same

as where we lived before

always having enough


always wanting more


then the wall of your words

rose from the horizon

watering, melting what we

thought was frozen

a wall of blue diction rose up

in the distance

syntactical explosion

no resistance in its path


it pulled with love

pushed with desire

dredging up all our marine bed mire

sped through the reef

rushed past tidal lines

swallowing land, tree, vine

aimed straight for me

and I alarmed

saw fish words fly free

so I, open-armed

caught fish love

fish passion

fish scaling emotion

fish spawning fish

from marital devotion.


I have sung this Song of Solomon upon you

and you, my ichthys, have sung me too.


Selina Tusitala Marsh, 2018

The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.

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. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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