Today, you’re twelve teeth old,
and we fossick for shells,
star-fish, pipi and paua

until the tide goes out
when we wave goodbye
to yachts moored in the marina.

At home, you float
across polished floors
until you keel over.

Your jaw leaves an alveolus
in the matai deep enough
for a tear-drop’s caress.

As I stroke you,
your eyes collect water;
your gums are an ocean of blood.

But only when you’re sleeping,
do I discover a tooth
anchored to blue woollen blanket.

Suddenly, you’re eleven teeth old
and have grown, like Lazarus,
younger beneath moonlight.

White and hull-shaped,
the tooth’s a boat,
isolated by low tide.

In the morning,
I’ll show you how it can rest
safely upon its starboard.

from Lost Relatives (Steele Roberts, New Zealand, 2011), © Siobhan Harvey 2011, used by permission of the author. Poet’s private recording 2011.

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