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Jenny Clay



the lino lined up

and the squares were horizontal with the windows

a glasshouse of sorts

the fifties furniture sat where it was placed


in black and white

she is typing on the deck

I’m in shorts

he must have taken the picture


later I will slide down the deck banister      fly off

hit my head hard on the end and

be taken for stitches to the doctor who used to live opposite

and whose son put my cat upside down in a woollen hat


she is slicing vegetables

he has the evening paper

the clink of glass, pouring liquid

another glass

he is waiting for dinner he wants it now


at the table

my brother and I eat fast ‘sit up straight’

‘answer me’ ‘don’t talk with your mouth full’


in my bedroom the polka dot wallpaper swarms off the wall

a noise repeats and repeats in my head

the bedcovers rise higher and higher in waves


in the dark there is a man on the deck with a knife

or is he inside I must be very quiet


and then it is morning and winter and there is ice on the puddles in the valley

I walk to school and cut through the property at the bottom of the hill

the windows are

watching me


and there is sea and harbour and Rangitoto

not offering any solutions


that quiet volcano


A year on a Whitireia writing course in 1999 helped Jenny Clay’s poetry out of boxes and into a more public arena, leading to her first poetry collection Take a Leap. Her favourite foods include snapper, carrot cake and sorbet; and hot soup with her poetry feedback group.


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