Anna Jackson lives in Island Bay, Wellington, with her husband, designer
Simon Edmonds, and two children, Johnny and Elvira. Books of poetry
include The Long Road to Tea-time (Auckland University Press, 2000), The
Pastoral Kitchen
(AUP 2001), shortlisted for the Montana Poetry Award,
and Catullus for Children (AUP 2003). A new collection, The Gas Leak, will
be coming out in December, 2005. Anna lectures in American Literature
and Children's Fantasy Literature at Victoria University, Wellington.

A master key is easy to procure.

He enters houses all over the city,
the rise and fall of it,
the streets that stop and start.
Stopping up leaks all over the city
as if the whole city were
slowly leaking
out of its pipes.
He prefers to work when no one
is home, entering like a burglar,
making himself the coffee
that, if someone were at home
to offer it to him,
he would refuse.
Never brings his wife home any news.

Extenuating circumstances.

They lie in bed, staring
at the ceiling.
She wouldn't call marriage
a talking cure.
Anyway, a real
psychoanalyst now
would run an interrupted hour,
keeping your subconscious
on your mind like a tune
you can't get
out of your head.
Is that what she wants?
Or continuity's amnesia,
marriage's extended hour?

Looking at him as if he were a ghost.

Her clothesline on his lawn.
And inside, the floor
covered in piles of washing --
he watches from the door
as his wife holds up each piece
of clothing to her nose,
as if making sure
no smell of her family
remains. He thinks,
she'd rather live in a ghost house,
with a ghost family.
Listens at night
to her clothesline spinning
round and round till dawn.

Nothing suggests adulterous proceedings.

They lie in bed staring
at the ceiling.
They are not really married.
They are not his
pedigree dogs
she is keeping
in the basement
for a 'friend'.
Why couldn't she just
have said no?
She has no answer to that.
Her silence means something.
Possibly fearing.
Probably actually holding on.

What? Gas in the tank, I suspect.

He dreams he is trying to drive
from the passenger seat,
leaning over, the full load
making him anxious
around corners.
There's everything they
ever owned.
When he wakes up,
his wife compliments him
on his subconscious.
'You think it means something?'
Silence. It means something.
It's morning, that's something.
They both get out alive.

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