As he lived, he remembered the skin-friction, the soft-muscled arch of her back, sweat beading crystalline across her collarbone. But as he died, all that remained was the defenceless kiss she offered his shoulder, afterward, before sleep.

-- from Kinaesthesia

John sat to finish Paradise Lost with those ulcerated lips, those blind eyes, those pinched, gritted kidneys. Ribs rutted his chest. That pelican daughter, the quill in her fingertips stained with ink and blood – the smell of it all, flesh like wet clay. He spoke his poem, already written, already read. It was inked into eternity through that girl’s bone and skin, her tendons, throbs of wet brainwork, nauseating pulp. He read the world into symmetry, his body to poverty, his daughter to death, his poem and name into rock and sky.

-- from The Smell of it All

Rose, two years old, waddled over and grabbed Stan’s leg. ‘Rose,’ he said. He placed his hand on the back of her neck. ‘Rose-of-mine.’ His fingertips were thickly callused, numb to soft things, but he knew well enough the smoothness of her skin.

-- from Wharekaho Beach, 1944