Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Johanna Aitchison’s ‘WHO DOES ANNA THINK SHE IS?’


Anna walks with wire
in her spine.

No one mentions the spine
wire, they just say,

“We call her Porcupine;”
or “You talking about Spiny?”

Overhead, cut-out birds
turn to ash

on powerlines. No one suspects
hidden spines are the cause of

Anna’s Olympic-
level ungratefulness. Perhaps

it’s because she’s a palindrome
that she gets away with fire.

A reversible jacket
has an unfair red side. Anna is unfair

in the forest. She requests a
thousand pines for her

red birds. She asks that her birds
sleep on needles.

Johanna Aitchison

Johanna Aitchison has just finished her PhD thesis “Asserting and Locating Value in Contemporary Elliptical-Style Poetry” at Massey University. She was the Mark Strand Scholar at the 2019 Sewanee Conference in Tennessee and a 2015 Fellow at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She has published three volumes of poetry in New Zealand.

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