Wednesday, March 6, 2024

A contagion of unbridled smiles

Some days, on the 4.59 to Melling,

the trans clippie is slated. I know

what comes, what always happens.


I wait, watch, wonder which

nail-paint colour will greet us,

whether there'll be hibiscus


and is today pony-tail or ringlets?

'Let me alone' tokens – books, mags,

phones – topple-close like dominoes.


Kia ORA! NICE to see you! How ARE you?


Soft words course closer each clip,

lips, eyes pleated in a miles-wide smile,

cheeks, brow crinkled with aroha.


Powerless to resist, each passenger

reciprocates, swathes the train in

a contagion of unbridled smiles.


Some days, I wish every Posie Parker

had to have their visa clipped

on a rainbow trip to Melling. 

Keith Westwater

This poem was selected for publishing in the New Zealand Poetry Society's 2023 anthology, white-hot heart. Posie Parker is a British anti-transgender rights activist. In March 2023, she sought permission (by applying for a visa) to enter New Zealand. Following political debate, transgender protests, and a judicial review of the application, a visa to enter the country was granted.

'Kia ora' is a Māori greeting phrase.

'Aroha' is a Māori word for love. 

If you are a Medium member, you can read this poem here.


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