How to leave the small town you were born in
First you must demonstrate your ability to count your age on an abacus or use a telephone with a rotary dial. Acquire your badge in either synchronised running or raking leaves in an apron. From then on speak only in morse code. Should you become trapped inside a cactus or a fleur-de-lis, you must draw the Air New Zealand logo from memory to be freed. Should you have forgotten your wool cap or clip-together cutlery set, you will return to the small town you were born in. In your darkest hours shout I will do my best! and recite prayers old and new. The mere thought of the small town you were born in will become repellent, like kissing your cousin or spooning out jellied meats from a tin. When you make it to the outside you may write back home to tell younger siblings of your great odyssey – how you swore allegiance to god and country, and demonstrated great physical and mental skill.
Louise Wallace now lives in Dunedin and is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent being Bad Things (Victoria University Press, 2017). In 2015 she was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. She is the founder and editor of Starling, an online journal publishing the work of New Zealand writers under 25 years of age.