Poetry Shelf connections: two poems from Nicola Easthope


Unessential kiss


I thought we’d meet in Island Bay

on a park bench facing the sea.

Well, you two on it, in your safe bubble

with us three standing, two metres away.


There’d be coffee poured from the flask

steaming against the strait’s new ice

and muffins with feijoa’s soap-sweet grit.

We’d inhale the aroma, lift our masks.


In lock down, I can’t mistakenly slip

on the mussel-kelp-anemone rock

and the soft creased surface of your cheeks

cannot be surprised by my bursting lips.



Numb and Absurd have morning

love children

and there is small relief.


Boris has gone to hospital.

Donald is lost, will lose.

Scotland’s chief medical officer,


Catherine and our Health Minister, David

have apologised for breaking

their own rules. The Queen, Elizabeth


calls for stoicism and self-discipline.

The iwi from Uawa are dancing

on the checkpoint line, in rainbow chiffon


wings, totally winning.

Craig from Solly’s lorries says all loos

are closed on his route from Mataura


to Ashburton but he makes it in time

yet the journo presses him – just take us

through this – what did this feel like?


I am looking in the mirror at the small

purulent pimple on my chin

wondering why on earth at my age?


I am thinking of people with nothing

in the fridge and no safe haven.

I am loading the dishwasher too unlovingly


and chip the willow-green bowl my mother

made at a pottery nightclass way back

when all we ever caught off each other


were colds, mumps, chickenpox, headlice

and it was wickedly easy

to make ourselves burp, or cry.


Nicola Easthope



Nicola Easthope (Pākehā, tangata Tiriti) is a teacher, poet and cheerleader for teen activism, from the Kāpiti Coast. Her two collections are leaving my arms free to fly around you (Steele Roberts, 2011) and Working the tang (The Cuba Press, 2018), and individual poems have been published in Aotearoa, Australia, Scotland and the U.S. She was a guest of the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2012, the Tasmanian Poetry Festival in 2018, and a couple of very cool LitCrawl seasons in Pōneke. You can find more of her work on gannet ink






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