Iona Winter Writes: Paper to Water

by Iona Winter - Dec 07, 2018

To accompany our article about author Iona Winter's book launch, enjoy a sample of her writing below. 

Paper to water

I stood in the sea

until your words blew away

paper to water

loosened limbs dissolved


and I watched

as your hollow facts became ensnared

by the callous tide



Ōku whatu notice things.

The dog with chops in the breeze out a car window, freedom. How a woman warms her pregnant puku in the sunshine, hands circling. And a broken blackbird in a ditch, silent.

 Ōku taringa too.

 The way Porirua travels fluid around my mouth. How ocean waves pound, relentless. And people who wank lyrical — no waxing goes on inside their māngai. 

Nan used to say, ‘You can’t keep a hatpin in a cloth bag for very long.’

 I channel her while eating porridge straight from the pot. Wooden spoon melded to twisted fist, and my riri surfaces.


The bitch laid her purchases out on hotel-crisp-snapped white sheets, then stood back to admire them. She liked her wealth plastic wrapped and tidy. She overlooked two flies fucking on the bleached toilet roll, edges pressed and triangulated, as she rushed out to ‘meet friends for lunch’. She didn’t pause when she pulled out onto the busy road; doing what the hell she liked and her privilege ran parallel over my spine.


 In the waiting room I observe a pensioner’s toes marked by years spent in jandals — purple jellybeans. Then am struck by a toddler’s shoes with sparkling lights.

I can smell a woollen jumper imbued with oil, and think about the joy I once felt picking fluff out of my pito.

‘Will your wheelchair get through?’ says the receptionist.

The same question every time.

 Āe,’ I say. ‘I’ll manage.’

 Tōku wairua is forever watching.


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