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Carole Nelson Phillips, New Zealand
Carole has been writing for nearly a year, though , as Carole says, the words have been with her forever. For a poet who has been writing seriously for such a short while, her command of language, and poetic voice is very apparent.

one of those weeks
you know?
and I'm seeing it like a black cake
I'm icing it red
cutting it
each slice is a memory

a child, the skin
of tainted milk
scraped up,
packed in a suitcase,
set in shame on the steps
of her grandmother's house

lena removes visible
aspects of the child
burns underwear,
pink dresses
bow waisted
kitten bordered.
cuts wool cloth
green, black,
sews it into
straight shifts,
one cat head
pocket, no zips

she cuts off
the hair the
child sits on
& the shorn child
is a refugee in
her grandmother's
house & stops
speaking, runs
thin fingers across
delicate glass,
watches with silent
eyes as some things
grow & other
things die inside

behind a chintz chair
in lena's house, the
child hides a book
to be found, pencil
drawings on lined
paper, bodies, big
on top of small &
the silent child calls
from the pages

the book vanishes,
and lena buy's a
brown suitcase,
packs up the
tainted skin of
the child, three
wool dresses &
leaves it on the
grey steps of
another house

Hidden in a ritual of garlic

just beyond
back door steps:
a round slat wood
table, sun twisted,
silvered near a
wall half hidden
cracking, beneath the
weight of a hundred
virgin buds of albertine.

at the table a woman,
dark hair coiled, bare
skin to the sun oiled
casually wrapped &
tied in blue silk

freshly pulled heads
of garlic lie
in rows, with
sure fingers she
weaves stems,
cloved bulbs hang
below one another.
the ropes will
hang from a rack
in her kitchen

continuing the ritual
of gathering & weaving,
thoughts of her grandmother
in a white coffin

the phone rings,
she doesn't answer,
runs hands over coiled hair,
oiled flesh heats
& darkens in sun

garlic paper skins
that fall
she will lay
in a pewter bowl
with rosemary,
let them rest then,
take the bowl outside,
squat near it and
watch it burn

garlic plaited ropes
of her shorn hair

A gardener has her rituals

she has planted
a border that curves
slightly beneath
a low stone wall,
beside a fallen gate
to a barren orchard

in black soil
12 lilies grow
rising singly
through skirts of green,
white flesh unfolding
to reveal a
hard yellow spike
at each centre

near the fallen gate
a blue enamel
bucket, chipped,
sits rain filled
amongst dandelions.
she takes water
from the bucket
in a can, carries
it to the border,
does this 12 times
for 12 days, till
the lily's are
at their peak

on the thirteenth
day, she takes a
bone handled knife,
cuts each yellow spike,
lays one at the foot
of each lily, leaving
the white funnel
cupped flesh of the
flower exposed

All works copyright Carole Nelson Phillips