Tag Archives: vanessa crofsky

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Vanessa Crofskey’s ‘The Capital of My Mother’


The Capital of My Mother


My mother is born in the capital of Malaysia

her own umbilical cord tied to a deflating sun


In her country, the heat is wet

the air is heady

the sweat on my back is hereditary


I know no kin except blood tied to bone

my water body leaks red and diaspora yellow

my eyes are globes


Karl, my brother, is turning seven.

We sit in the muggy backyard of our grandparents

house in Kuala Lumpur


Kuala Lumpur means muddy confluence

The city is born from the place two rivers

merge then flow


I am the point two paths cross just to separate

byproduct of my parents’ relations

divorce impeding

my mother’s birthplace


They say all rivers flow to sea

I cannot find home except the sense

of somewhere I can’t reach

I am a migrant’s remembrance

I am a welcome party.


The kettle is boiling and it is time in slow motion

It is the noise of my grandma learning English

off my five years old cousin


Her R’s are a dysfunctional lawnmower

explaining wet season, sticky rice, banana leaf


Across the phone

in my privileged NZ accent

I talk about burgers, flat whites, fries with aioli.


We don’t speak the same language

but we do share the same ocean

when I say noodles she knows exactly what I mean.


Potluck is God doing dishes

Migration is the earth stirring flavour

Clepsydra is a clock that runs from dripping liquid

Its name means water thief


Across boats, migrants tell time by the second

and we call them thieves for different reasons


The first house I live in is a transported container

stolen body, claimed land, white heartbeat


Decades are tides that rock us to sleep

except landlocked I cannot dream

except I’ve a fear of the open sea

accept that you are dry land

still amniotic




I’ve worn ships not shoes since the minute

I was aware of my own unbound feet


Only a daughter’s daughter’s body

arriving to this space every century


The harbour is a welcome mat

for a new placenta


I spit in it

and let the land claim my whole front teeth


Vanessa Crofskey


Vanessa Crofskey is a poet and artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She was the Auckland Regional Slam Champion for 2017 and won Best Spoken Word / Storytelling at Auckland Fringe Festival that same year. Vanessa has written for multiple publications including Turbine | Kapohau, The Pantograph Punch, Starling, Hamster Mag, Hainamana, East Lit, SCUM Mag and Dear Journal. She tends to write about water, intimacy and violence.