Frankie McMillan

the existential crab colony of Kyushu Bay

previously published in JAAM

so frugal we sleep on sand
under an upturned dinghy

my lover clasps me tight
for thirty days and nights

I dream of shipwrecks, the light-
house keeper who feeds me

gastropods, morsels of seaweed
until my belly begins to swell

and I’m back in the house market
for something larger. meanwhile

the paddle crabs play music
how can I explain this to myself?

I see them scoop salty water
blow through their gill chambers

such a riot it gets
the hermits out of hiding

this is the nature of serendipity
I follow their grey scuttle

their Japanese bustle and go
as they check out the vacancies

of mollusc and carapace. such
longing to find a place to call home

to say this is mine to the edge of my shell
and over there stranger is you

my lover says we are all renters –
none of us know the landlord

Alan Bennett striding over the shore

previously published in JAAM

Maybe it’s a short cut to somewhere
and if he keeps walking

out of the photograph and into my room
we’ll have a laugh

about our terrible mothers – their warnings
about what was coming to you,

their cheerfulness at the rude disasters
of the world, the train wrecks, the ghosts

of the tsunami leaving a wet patch
on the kitchen chair, you should

always carry a penny, a cracker
in your handbag in case you tumble

down the stairs. I imagine he’s walking
to get away from the trickiness

of language. A stiff sea breeze to carry
away any stray vowels

so I won’t ask him in. Let the mothers float,
their arms splayed to the sky,

let him find the rhythm of his own sure feet.

Frankie McMillan is a poet and short story writer and a tutor at the Hagley Writers’ Institute. She is the author of The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories and two poetry collections, Dressing for the Cannibals and There are no horses in heaven. In 2009 she won first prize in the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition. In both 2013 and 2015 she was the winner of the New Zealand Flash Fiction Award. Frankie McMillan was awarded the Creative New Zealand Todd New Writers’ Bursary in 2005 and held the Ursula Bethell residency at the University of Canterbury in 2014. Her latest book, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions (CUP) was published in August 2016 and was been long listed for the 2017 Ockham Book Awards. She has recently spent 6 months in residence at the Michael King Centre in Auckland.