Tuesday Poem: Bad Secrets.

Bad Secrets

Some bad secrets are dead
weird: why did they take
for the family album that
picture of Baby Gwendoline
Mansfield, cold in her shawl
twenty four hours since
her breathing ceased? What
did it do to Katherine, three?

Bad bad secrets grow colder
and colder: who could predict
that Father Kafka crushing
his Franz with an ironclad
shoulder would nuture from
nothing an immortal beetle
of tubercular ancestry, of
the genera Oedipal?

But the worst kept secret
you won’t believe: cornered
in history children are waiting
for life to happen in death’s
dominion, a father nuzzle, a
mother skip, brother and sister
to share their wings, for a day
to begin as a dove’s pinion.

Tuesday Poem


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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2 Responses to Tuesday Poem: Bad Secrets.

  1. Really interested to see your reference to Gwen Mansfield here. I believe the death of Gwen and the resulting photograph were the genesis of the Doll’s House story as well as many other poems and references in Mansfield’s work. Looking forward to meeting you at the Christchurch Litfest!

  2. Jeffrey Paparoa Holman says:

    Hi Kathleen. I wondered if you might respond when I put this up. I knew you would know far more about it all than I might – I think the poem was written when we were studying The Doll’s House back in 1998. It was kicked off by the story that the baby Gwen was dead when the photo was taken. See you on the 1oth.

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