Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Kiri Piahana-Wong’s ‘In liminal time’

In liminal time

It’s been ten days and
I have this sense of being mired in time
I look at the clock, look away again,
for what feels like a long time
But when I look back, the hands haven’t moved
No time has passed at all between
looking away and looking back
And yet a world of time has gone by
I know that inside me something has blossomed
and ended and all the while
the hands of the clock are locked
while I float in liminal time
and yet I keep existing in the world
My breath tied to the second hand, tick, tock, tick, tock
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how when we fall asleep,
we just keep on breathing, almost nothing can stop it

At night, I keep imagining that I am lying facedown
in my parents’ fishpond
I have an image in my mind, of
my long dark hair floating on the water
A small part of me that isn’t grief-stricken
observes that my Ophelia complex is
alive and well, even if my father isn’t
I occupy my mind thinking about Ophelia’s father,
who was killed accidentally by Hamlet, a man
his daughter loved. Who was Ophelia’s father? His
actions seem to indicate he cared about his daughter,
but he was after a political match. Weren’t they all
in those days. Before Ophelia died,
she handed out flowers — she gave herself rue.
Rue is bitter, but it has the power to heal pain. It
signifies regret. She was trying to tell herself
something, even if she didn’t know it

At night, there are so many stars
I once read that if you have insomnia, you should count the stars
until you fall asleep,
so I count for a while. I don’t fall asleep, I just lose focus
I stare at the stars until I’m falling into them
and continuing to look at them hurts too much
Because they are bright, and remote, and I am alone

Kiri Piahana-Wong

Kiri Piahana-Wong is a poet and editor, and she is the publisher at Anahera Press. She lives in Whanganui with her family.

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