February 2011

A New Zealand Literary Showcase

Issue 14 Guest Artist:
Gordon Walters

Past Features:
Glasgow Voices
Volta: A Multilingual Anthology
(One poem: 93 languages)

15 Miami Poets

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Sampurna Chattarji
Sarah Churchwell
Hollis Clayson
Sally Cline
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Siobhan Harvey
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Laurie Maguire
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Paschalis Nikolaou
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Élisabeth Roudinesco
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
Rebecca Swift
Susan Tiberghien
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Telethon by Janet Charman  


and my mother out law
she’s holding the fort
awake all night clasping her joyful bosom as the dollar total swings up and up
she won’t tell you how much she’s given of her pension
because it makes her feel
minute by minute
like watching among her son’s half finished renovations
where the tiles are breaking
as the pipe’s burst and the hot water’s in flood
but now it hardly matters
since all of a sudden the little family have packed up and gone off to the old children’s hospital
that they’re fundraising to renew
with their week old baby whose blood test says she has a life threatening infection
and despite the lumbar puncture and an eleventh hour specialist assessment
the baby’s father won’t let them enter the room on the ward where they’re supposed to be admitted
because it reeks to him of death
but i can’t smell it
and when the nurse would force us from this ignorance
he shouts at her and pushes me and the little one into the corridor
that’s our standoff right there
till her superior comes by and sniffs around
wrenches open the incubator doors
to pull out the flask of rancid formula
we gag
and then they insist we put the baby in the thing where she cries and i want her back
and lean over and stick my breast through the box top opening for her to suck
her mouth reaches up
while the nurse looks at me as if i’m demented
some hill billy who hasn’t even invested in a nursing bra
and is not observing the decorum of the child’s containment
anyway she says
it’s for her own good
she won’t want you she has an IV drip
full stop
now settle down
we just have to wait for the test results are you both staying? we are
so they let us chuck the plastic covered mattresses on the floor
like we’re on a noho marae but without the powhiri and the kai
and we camp out there looking up to our daughter
nearly naked above us in her heated box
but perhaps it’s the box heat giving her that temperature he says? and turns it down
do they know best?
with the tube of dextrose and antibiotics going into her arm
my rock hard tits getting sore enough to make me septic when i whine about it
to the night nurse she gets me a hand pump
sends me to stand in the shower and draw off all that surplus milk till i’m soft
oh yes very straight forward
but the light bulb has blown on the five metre high mausoleum ceiling
it’s pitch black in there where the water runs cold for a first eternity over my flesh
but then
it does heat up and i get some relief
slouching back to our room to find the night nurse is leaving
the aide in charge while she and their one teenage patient zoom off to the town hall telecast
and she mentions their imminent departure to us
because we’re the only adults within cooee
but if any of the several babies in the precinct were awake to it
they’d want to be hurtling off to get on TV too
and so what if it is three o’clock in the morning?
girls just want to have fun and forget they have cystic fibrosis and learn everything about the stars and the gear changes between the Princess
Mary Hospital and Queen Street where parked on a yellow line the two of them dash through the swing doors to the waiting applause of the studio audience
the phones are ringing for me and my gal bubbled up with a wild euphoria
and though the aide stays monitoring everything in the TV lounge
i don’t want to watch any more
no i have better things to do like go and crash in the room with the sick baby and her comatose father
where it is written that men shall sleep through anything
and then i’m wallowing with them
poolside in the lounge bar of the hotel of sweaty metal fatigue
where your stitches don’t ache and you wake up after a minute
to the cheery voice of the AM nurse wearing shocking orange leggings with
her name in Fimo clay modelled with giraffe style letters onto her child friendly sky blue sweatshirt
and she tells us the blood tests have all come back
but just in case
they’re finishing the antibiotics
and then our alternative healthcare organics style Plunket nurse drops in
to say no matter what these orthodox practitioners think
it’s the homeopathics she’s been giving our baby that have done the trick
it is their feat
theirs alone
to have directed our little one home from the grey plain
and when the specialist comes along with his new house physician
we mention the distillation our darling is swallowing
and he tells the young man that ‘you do get parents like this
but let them carry on with it since it’s harmless’
and being parents like this
we do carry on with it
although now in the light of the scientific evidence
i don’t know what to think about anybody’s unorthodox hopes and practices
especially since seven years after my mother out law has become vaguely aware how little time she has left for heading up hill in love and trouble
and the medical profession can’t offer her anything
but we don’t know about that yet
while my little girl is off and running
into her life at school while her sister has grown and been born and nearly killed me but that’s another story
and this morning who should come walking into the class i’m teaching at Uni
but the young woman who sped off to that Telethon with the wiry ward charge yes
here she is
with portable oxygen and a head full of ideas and blue-black hair snapping
eyes and lips hungry for everything
burning up her hopes and dreams in a fire of living
that no night
or suffering
shall screen