Hinemoana Baker Click to

BakerHinemoana Baker is a writer, musician, occasional broadcaster and teacher of creative writing. She traces her mixed ancestry from several North and South Island Māori tribes, as well as from England and Bavaria. Her first poetry book, mātuhi | needle (VUP/Perceval Press, 2004), was co-published in New Zealand and in the US. Her second collection is kōiwi kōiwi | bone bone (VUP 2010). Hinemoana’s recent awards and residencies include three months at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2010. She was one of 60 writers who represented New Zealand at the 2012 Frankfurt Bookfair.

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He roped me, he roped me twice the second time
it caught, fell at the right angle and landed around the bones
of my dress. He roped me from the East like light rising, from the
West like light falling, in the arrangement of his cutlery,
the bubbling land moving on its plates. Without words
or entertainment and without true silence he
roped me in the mud, in the kind of mud people call sucking,
or stinking, it sticks to one’s body, one’s feathers and folds.
I couldn’t bear the thought of soup or vast pastures, he roped me
without heart or dancing, when he called me his wriggly little girl.
It was like freezing, when he roped me, I watched a thousand
doors clap shut in the clouds. He roped me and began to pull,
in spite of his own injuries, and I allowed him to be lonely.
With a shovel I buried the turquoise feathers, warm from the sun,
winter in the blood. In my mind I wrote letters to all those I’d
wronged, I want to be buried with a family resemblance.

Note: This poem takes its recurring motif, and the first words of the penultimate line, from the novel Winter in the Blood by Blackfeet writer James Welch (Penguin, 2008).

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4 Responses to Rope

  1. Molly Ortiz says:

    I was thoroughly delighted by this poem! The sing-song repetition and cadence at the poem’s opening provide a nice contrast to the poem’s darker turn toward the end. I don’t understand the reference to turquoise feathers, but it is intriguing, I wish knew more. I’m definitely interested in looking up the novel that elements of the poem were influenced by.

  2. John Shepard says:

    Like Molly, I really like the sing-song flow of the poem. I also the author’s use of enjambement. It allowed the images to bleed to together. I also appreciated the placement of italicized words. It helped to tie up loose ends– pun intended.

  3. Drew Kenavan says:

    I agree with Molly. I really wish I knew more about this poem because I enjoyed it a lot but I am a little confused about what the turquoise feathers connection is to the poem.

    I really enjoyed the lines:

    “He roped me from the East like light rising, from the
    West like light falling”

    The image of the light rising and falling and the use of East and West really caught my attention.

  4. Julie Rose Burns says:

    I read this poem as a successful evocation of the utter horror of child sexual abuse. It brought to mind a time I saw a Francis Bacon painting and understood, I felt, his power to depict the indescribable, previously I had just thought his paintings ugly.
    I loved the language till I got to the last two lines, I want the poet to stay with her own more than adequate words. I want this poet in all her work to be more direct and courageous, I think she sometimes hides in cleverness .

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