Ever since the self-defence lessons,

when I was twelve, when we were told

always to appear as big as possible

so from a distance we seemed male,

I’ve drawn myself up in the dark.


Last night,

at the end of the alley,

a silhouette walked,

short and broad

with a male gait.


My Philosophy of Aesthetics lecturer once said

she found androgynous people sublime.

Because of the double-take you must make,

the awe of not knowing.

We’d been talking about sunsets until then.


I wasn’t afraid of the figure —

light bulbs glowed through

the pittosporum hedges.

But it walked so slowly I couldn’t say

if it was coming towards me or going away.


Propaganda Poster Girl

From The Propaganda Poster Girl, published by VUP.

This is the opening poem of Amy’s first book. There are re-occuring images throughout the whole collection that are disturbing, the threat of danger, which this poem illustrates. I really like the way this poem ends. We never find out the gender of the figure or if anything happened or even which direction he/she was walking in. There is just the menace and the illusion.

Amy Brown was born in 1984 and grew up in Hastings before moving to Wellington to study English literature and philosophy at Victoria University. She taught English and travelled for six months in South East Asia in 2005, and has subsequently completed an MA in creative writing, for which she won the Biggs Prize for Poetry, and a first class honours degree in English literature. She is books and creative writing editor of online arts journal The Lumière Reader, and occasional book reviewer for the NZ Listener. Her poetry has published in Sport, Turbine, Snorkel, the Listener, Landfall and Hue & Cry.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the Tuesday Poem blog.