new zealand electronic poetry centre



R O M A   P O T I K I

Born in Lower Hutt, New Zealand in 1958, Roma Potiki’s tribal affiliations are to Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri and Ngāi Rangitihi. She is a playwright and commentator on Maori theatre, as well as a theatre performer and manager, who was Te Toka-a-Toi (Maori arts) co-ordinator of the 1998 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. Roma is also a visual artist, who illustrated her own first collection of poems and has work in the permanent collection of the Dowse Gallery, Lower Hutt. Her published poetry includes Stones in Her Mouth (1992) and Shaking the Tree (Steele Roberts, 1998), and her work has been widely anthologised.

cycle of five poems

a full breast to the moon
misty sulphur beats around the candle flame
and submerged in grey silk
i stretch full length and keep afloat

outside the pool i feel the full weight of you inside me
still alive

inside the flat is a bed and a book

my stomach is pulled tight now
heavy sand, before the tide
breathing is difficult.

gasping fish swim past enormous rocks
and out to deeper water.
the little passage grows large
then closes again.
ika does not look back.

beached mucus dries and is returned to the land.
the little ika swims harder.

For Tarawera
out of the shadows
out of the gloom
it was a rare rolling baby
eyes cast wide
magic magic, ferns ‘n’ hot tides
magic, magic, fishes’ eyes!

Late nights with baby
you bloody try writing at 3am
with a baby on one breast, and biting
a pen in my left hand, stumblegaited it to the toilet.
sitting beneath an unsubdued light
emblazoned, red-eyed and breathless
a blank, bleary beauty.

Babies sleep
babies sleep
babies sleep
he dreams all the things he’ll ever be.
hands touch the night
lightly, lightly
he’s asleep.



Last updated 04 July, 2004