Jane Simpson

First selfie

a portrait of the breast
taken from below
the other breast looking on

I reconstruct my surgery
through bruises the nurses forewarned –
a lexicon of reds
my innocent skin

How to get out of movie mode — 
the unexpectedly
pert breast looking back
from 50 years ago —


In the surgical ward

I wear orange
a high vis vest
over broken roads

a tee-shirt
saffron robes
a peach wedding dress

a touch of black
desert sands
grit and pizzazz

I am zest and zing
skin peeled
the colour of courage

under the knife.

Who is my neighbour

The neighbour opposite who lent me 
her lawnmower the week I moved in and her neighbour 

The mechanic, just shy of eighty — his garage, the back 
of his childhood home — turning the radio down.
Nothing like this has happened before.

The cancer survivor uprooting trees
starting her garden over 
two weeks before, a year after the lockdown 

when the theatre nurse dreamt and slept
at night, and we called out and talked
and shared home baking.

	Last week, a garage sale 
	blocking the drive.

	Thursday, police cars 
	several hours in a quiet street. 

The hospital ringing — two days after we think it must 
	have happened — she hadn’t come into work.

The daughter we do not see 
	who found her.

The woman next-but-one
	I last saw on her front steps 
at the garage sale
	just shy of sixty 

giving me her childhood — 
	her mother’s trusted mixing bowls.

Jane Simpson, a Christchurch-based poet and historian, has two full-length collections, A world without maps (2016) and Tuning Wordsworth’s Piano (2019), and a world-first liturgy, The Farewelling of a Home (2021). Her poems have appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, London Grip, Allegro and in leading journals in New Zealand and Australia.
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