Hana Pera Aoake. Image: Supplied.
Hana Pera Aoake. Image: Supplied.

BooksJune 21, 2019

Friday Poem: ‘The bigger the burn the tougher you are’ by Hana Pera Aoake

Hana Pera Aoake. Image: Supplied.
Hana Pera Aoake. Image: Supplied.

New poetry by Lisbon-based writer Hana Pera Aoake.


The bigger the burn the tougher you are

I sit under the plum tree and eat Christmas plums. The afternoon sun hits my face and I think about Halle Berry in Die Another Day kicking a knife through a copy of The Art of War and into Rosamund Pike’s chest . . . killing her instantly. You tried to munch up all of my mana and you tried to scrape a little bit of my wairua all for yourself and I cry about it sometimes and my plum starts to taste of salt and it starts to rot and fruit flies swarm and eat all the flesh and bury their larvae deep in the stone. Anna says dairy is rotting our bodies. I think of stretch marks like separating my curds and whey. My whenua is buried in the ground and I dream about erosion swallowing my nana’s urupā. Bash myself under the waves and swim for as fast and as long as I can. The valve on the right side of my heart is clogged. It won’t pump my blood properly. Tendons snap. Soft ice cream. Does anybody remember Mark Wahlberg when he was in a rap group called Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch? Modelling shirtless for Calvin Klein. I put on a skin for a day and see how it fits. I like wearing bike shorts and a cowboy hat. I want a house in Palm Springs. DJ Sammy’s Endless Summer playing at my school disco in Charters Towers in 2004. Passionfruit and mango real fruit ice cream drips on my hand. Moreporks screaming, ‘It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts.’

We need a fan it’s suddenly too hot in our leaky house. I eat ice cream for two days in a row. Seeing it melt in the sun makes me feel like all the water in my body is about to burst out from every pore in my skin and all my moisture has been sucked out like I’m in a dehydrator or my skin is made of leather like the skin of wealthy retirees on Waiheke. I think if I was a dried fruit though I’d probably be an apple. I hate the way people who love living in Wellington talk about it, as though everyone should love living here and as though the weather is good all the time when often it isn’t ideal. The Wellington wind throws sand into my eyes like a mean redheaded kid destroying a sandcastle while a little girl cries and I wonder why Pākehā children are allowed to behave like this and I want to yell ‘Whose children are these’ and there are mums who are red like cheerio sausages with umbrellas on the beach with bubs in their hand and I want to drink wine and whine too and I want to get hapū this year but there are no candidates for the daddy role. The sun burns my arm and it feels like cigarette butts being put out on my skin or like how boys in high school used to give themselves frosties by spraying Lynx on their arms until they frosted over, leaving third-degree burns. The bigger the burn the tougher you are.

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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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