First Nations Poetry Magazine –

"Impossible Regeneration" by Miriama Gemmell


Title image shows a computer-generated image of a futuristic city in the distance, with a sports car racing toward it.

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Published August 31, 2021

Impossible Regeneration

by Miriama Gemmell
(Paraparaumu, New Zealand)

"In 1856 physician and politician Dr Isaac Featherston said it was the duty of Europeans to 'smooth down ... [the] dying pillow' of the Māori race." (Te Ara)

when skiffs heralded
  tricornes lusting for
exotic feathers and rarer
treasures the pūngāwerewere

tickling the edges
  of starched silk listening
for the death rattle
waiting to wrap it up

turned out to be waiting on
  >>>>>>>> a leg
triangle remnant
readying to reincarnate

like the starfish, linckia diplax
  of impossible regeneration
some cousin of kina
(another salty one
conquistadors can't get
the tongue around)

a new kisser grows
in the image of the last
we are

tracing paper pushed
  against the window
arachnids newly limbed
and more likely to sketch

stippled hawk lips
of inherited memory
  than wrap it up
relentless and too bravado
for a tidy story arc

pūngāwerewere - spider; kina - sea urchin

Miriama Gemmell is a Māori poet from Aotearoa New Zealand (Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu). Miriama's poetry has been recently published in Wasafiri Magazine, Turbine, Te Whē, and Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. Miriama wonders whether hoarding is a genetic tendency or one manifestation of intergenerational cultural trauma. Meanwhile she washes yoghurt pots and feels closer to her ancestors. Miriama lives in a cluttered cottage near Wellington with her family.

Previously published in First Nations Poetry Magazine:
"Where Do the Spirited Shelter During Tumult?" by Eric Goodchild

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