Olivia Macassey

I eat the culture of my father’s mother’s father

His last words were in his mother tongue many people had never heard this before.

He came to this place in a boat the other children also in darkness
that took weeks and weeks they say his parents never ever
learned english they lived “out” somewhere and he would ride
over to visit them when he could he got a wife by threatening to
shoot himself but any line works on someone who wants it to and
by all accounts they were happy; I like to tell the story.

His daughter died before I was born I never ate anything prepared by her hand.

I go to the places from where I believe he came I go to these
places and imagine I cannot speak the words of his and their
language are the apple lodged inside the toffee open my mouth
and a few stray dogs come out to feed them I buy food from
street vendors in the gutter and eat I eat and eat I don’t know
what the things are that are becoming me; I devour my own tale.

I sit in an aeroplane hoarding the stray words under my tongue
like stones and the memory of everyone looking like me I allow
my body to hold another geography in my bones you say I have
no culture there is no such thing as that people ask me where I’m
from and it is here but the long hours in darkness the basket in
the gutter the soldiers in the road murmuring quietly beneath
unpronounceable trees a quiet sky falling over everyone they
leave one by one I grasp their legend it is loaves of bread and salt;
weeping, they disappear into my mouth.

Duck (axiomatic)

infinity, axiom of an axiom in set theory which lays down a condition that ensures that the domain of the theory contains a set with infinitely many members.
               — Thomas Mautner, Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy (London: Penguin, 2005)

From troubles of the world, this is where we turn.

An infinite universe must contain 
infinite possibilities

But a duck-shaped universe 
contains only duck-shaped possibilities

                              I can see 
                            it now: Plato, 
               shifting his weight 
                against the floor 
                                 of the 
                           cave, squints through                        blue
                           manuka smoke. Upon the rough wall, 
                           forms are taking shape: the sleek 
                             ovoid head,   graceful  slope 
                                of folded wing, the blunt
                                        distinctive bill —

Observing { from outside } Aristotle slowly turns his neck
to preen, with delicately nibbling beak, the ruffled feathers.

Elegy for Jill Chan

There is a stone in my heart now.

Tell me how
to hold it with

and grace.

In the light of your gaze
I found the world anew

You have left

to inhabit stillness,
courage to wait

for the words that are true.

I must learn now
how to hear you through my tears.

Olivia Macassey is a poet from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her work has appeared in various publications and her second book is The Burnt Hotel (Titus, 2015). She currently edits the NZ literary journal brief. Her website is www.macassey.com.
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