Holding Hands


Beneath the tablecloth you take my hand.
I dangled it like bait beside my chair,
hoping you might. Would anybody care?
I think the others here would understand,
being who they are. But is this what you’d planned?
You squeeze me. Are we having an affair?
I don’t dare scan your face, what smoulders there.
Now our companions gradually disband;
we’re left alone. You look at me, askew
and tell me you’ve determined not to spend
the night with me again. ‘OK,’ I shrug.
Sour grapes might work – I’d lie about wanting you
but truth is worth too much. I won’t pretend
I don’t. Your touch flows through me like a drug.




You are a land of climatic extremes.
You are the man of some of my dreams.

You are a plane crashing into the sea.
I am your glittering debris.

You spill to me your every sin.
And all night long your cat wants in.

The old house-ghosts tip back their chairs.
The inland cold creeps up the stairs.

I’ll drain you of your last excuses.
I’ll soak up all your vital juices.

You know I am a pit of snakes.
You know I am one of your best mistakes.



Airini Beautrais lives in Whanganui. She is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Flow: Whanganui River Poems (VUP 2017), which has been longlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards.