Alisha Vara – (Year 13, Rangi Ruru Girls' School, Christchurch)

lifetime(s)

the man who knew my
parents but didn’t know we
were vegetarian caught us a fish.

we laid it down in the garage,
glistening, lucid, a sea animal
dressed up as land. it was wrapped

in newspaper, one eye gazing
vacantly, the other, bloodied,
lost and not knowing.

the people at the wedding
knew, though. they knew how
to tell stories with their hands

and paint henna onto bored
children, flower webs twisting
around finger and palm.

they transformed hands into
seas of red where the fish
would have swum, seamlessly,

through ranks of dreams. instead
it lay solemn, and still. felt like
piranhas gnawing at my heart.