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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023
A Mystery, poems by Kit Willett
The fourth seat at the table
has been stolen. The rest
cluster around one side like lost
pigeons. The carpet is marked
with burns and the deep
grooves of that fourth chair.
The other seats discuss
where it might have gone:
they last saw it out
by the old woodshed.
Has it finally abandoned us
for the proverbial cigarettes?
Did it sell, alone, at the market?
Meanwhile, the table is busy
making sure there is food
to be had; it does not need
to know whether the chair
has fallen for an oak-look desk
or has been enlisted
for the local church.
The three remaining eat well,
and the woodfired stove
which warms the soup
keeps all the furniture
to the winter air.
The cat has been domesticated. He used to read
poetry, make music, and piss on the furniture;
but now, he wears a tie in his collar, eats his food
at the table, and only ever swipes at the dog
next door (through the gap in the fence).
We do not let him get too comfortable though.
He must earn his treats through tricks: he sits,
speaks, and logs in to IRD through his RealMe
account. Next April, he will do his own return.
The treadmill gets good use: we hang a catnip
mouse on the edge of the handle now
that he has stopped attacking the belt.
He has gotten friendlier with our other cat now
too—now that we have chopped his balls off.
But, just the other day, we caught him making
reverse colouring books with my watercolours
and selling them on Amazon; we scolded him,
and he hissed at us.
As Seen from the Rug
The still life is characterised by its moving parts.
Perhaps the rain is streaking down the windowpane,
clinging in futile hope, like the way the basket
of unfolded laundry waits. Perhaps the steam is rising
from the cup. Perhaps the fire becomes a pole dancer,
fresh in her feminism, ready to reclaim her body
for herself. Perhaps the incense rises and wafts
or wanders over to you to mix and mingle
with the air in your lungs: to try being inside you
a while. Perhaps the cat breathes; her tiny chest
filling and emptying: the dishwasher that finishes
its daily cycle. And you. Perhaps your yoga,
perhaps your watering of the plants,
perhaps your gradual change of a page
is a sign that growth can occur in any still life.
© Kit Willett
Kit Willett is an Auckland-based English teacher, poet, and executive editor of the Aotearoa poetry journal Tarot. His debut poetry collection, Dying of the Light, has recently been published by Wipf and Stock imprint Resource Publications.