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Photography: Sarah Reed
Mary Cresswell

Mary Cresswell grew up in Los Angeles but has spent most of her life in Wellington. She lives at the beach now. Her day job is as science editor/proofreader. She is co-author of Millionaire's Shortbread (University of Otago Press) and has published in journals in Canada, the US, Australia and the UK, as well as in NZ.


I pushed my luck
down the dark alley
we came out into the mangrove swamp

Crabs with carapaces
like bullet casings
clutched the branches. The tide was low:

Memories crawled out
through a slit in the night
stalked eyes turned from stem to shore

(The boatman’s been here before.)

Bleached bone pandanus
rattles in the offshore glare
We are floating safe
on the sound of rotting leaves.

pause as for breath

Happy knowing lying
in a coma comma
eating chicken korma

not now needing everything
competent to know
about erasure crumbs

not neglecting you you
sweet semicolon karma
(et cetera) thinking

calmly unencumbered
happy lying period
full stop
no known comma

shell game

My first is in seacoast but never in land
My second is double if you hold out your hand

My third comes in evening, so pink and so calm
My fourth seems so little when held in your palm

My fifth can be found on the mantel's far end –
marked Greetings from Suva ... Seattle ... South Bend.

My whole will encompass the sound of the sea
if you handle me gently, and listen to me.

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