Sudha Rao
New Zealand

How to wear pink

Not on your lapel, maybe
with black polka dots.

Not as blood’s pale ink
poppies turning purple.

Not on the tongue
curled to throw its spit.

Maybe as a skirt
across thighs.

Maybe as the light dims.
What a view.

Maybe, as a spring wind’s present,
a windfall.

As a damson hedgerow
pinked to shed its plums.

In a spirit glass
held up to usher in bravery.

Within your palm’s clasp
turned around in defiance.


My darling, my darling, the venus flower basket floats to hide from the moon. If the moon could, it would be this basket.  The spirals sing a secret.

My darling, my darling, deep down the rolling stone does not mix with the tower of song. When the basket empties its moon beams, they are refugees, like a leaking pool’s water. Your voice, astonished, hisses through the particle waves.

My darling, my darling, I saw this butterfly thrown against the wind; its somersaults held my breath. I followed it up and across the side of a city’s answer to trees. The concrete bashed with steel and paint was a backdrop for the colourless butterfly.

My darling, my darling, wait and you’ll see how its wings breathe the air waves, flutter colour back into your eyes and a song for your carriage.


They fell from the sky, a shaken tree’s bounty. The spoon, its chocolate mousse, separated. His mother is falling, away. Her nails are fading pink. As they fell, gossamer blued on their lips. Some rolled over board with eyes wide open. Falling, he sees how the breeze pulls faces and hopes the wind will change. She has fallen into herself and into the flotsam of hair, cries, screws, metal, luggaged memories, sighs, prayer and closed eyes. The air rarer than the weather inside him swallows him. High jinks. A fall of bodies from the sky liner’s clasp, a rare freedom. Their fall, head first to an unwanted adventure makes water their blank blanket. Their fall floated, thrashing a last goodbye to the sun, before they know it, not their sun. Their falling, an ever increasing lightness, liberates messages for the underworld. The sea claims these, an underwater victory to be lugged up later as suffocated light. The fallen, a watery jubilation, pierces feet at the water’s edge. Salt ankled a foam mark from hearts’ beats. They want to hear but no longer can. Life under water is time that fell, less wanted but thrust in their faces. The sea’s roll, tinctured by bodies resting in their new creation, licks bleeding feet, beached.  Stone cold pavement.


I wouldn’t dare, Polonius.
You have taught me how the word befriends the page.
I have listened to you over and over, I might even go so far as to say,
you sit on my shoulder almost everyday.
Around me nothing makes me think you were ever wrong.
I borrowed, but not
begged for a happy occasion of accompaniment. I spoke.
My thoughts, a nerve circuit.
Here your wisdom I failed to keep and learnt the lesson of silence returned.
Reed-bound desire, diluted, floats down, down to drown
in a vessel, settling.
Your message paced your affection, for your son
and daughter preparing for another life.
You have left me wondering
how long it takes to thine own self be true.
Can I tell you, Polonius, when I’ve arrived there.

To my daughter

My daughter, you ask who gives life,
who, you will give yours.
Distracted by the words on my page,
your arms round my neck,
I’m unaware of how your heart races
to where your life lies.

My daughter, you ask how to seek,
how to give.
Your eyes on the hill line
flutter. Open to the pursuit,
like the explorer’s untrodden path
towards your truth.

My daughter, you ask when time will tell,
when to cease.
I ask –  what is ceaseless?
You have caught me
out. Your search for kindness
has caught up with me.

Sudha Rao Biography
Originally from South India, Sudha Rao lives in Wellington and has had a long involvement with the arts, primarily as a dancer. She has been writing for many years. Sudha’s early New Zealand years in Dunedin and her cultural background influences her writing. To sharpen her skills, Sudha attended the Iowa Workshop in 2007 at the Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters.
Sudha is a University of Otago graduate and has a degree in South Indian classical dance as well as a Masters in Public Management. Sudha’s poems have been published online in Blackmail Pressand will appear in the UK anthology Poets’ Quest for God. In 2014 one of Sudha’s poems was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Competition.  Two of her poems are included in an anthology Sunset at the estuary a publication recently published in memory of Diane Beatson.

The Island - Rosie Whinray - 2015