Liminal Spaces


at the edge of the world
I stand and take in
the spray of waves on my face
the expanding sky

at the edge of the ocean
I wait for a sign
while water licks at my feet
and my body of lead
turns to salt

at the edge of the sea
I listen to oyster catchers
peck at living rocks
as pohutukawa branches
bow in recognition

in spite of myself
I surrender
to the wisdom
of water


Late Love Letter

about you
i can only be silent
i heard you first
yet i can barely recall your voice

your music shaped me
before life took over
your thoughts cajoled
my body into being

about you
i have only dim memories
too much a part of me to see you

i kept no photo
nor painted your portrait
which would have been a bibelot,
a landscape, an image of a home

about you
i have now only stories
that I intone in silence
to while time away

late at night
when the ambers flicker
in the memory of a wooden house
on quiet hills


(A vivid dream)

You were there in our hallway
a liminal space between arriving
and departing, between being and
non-being, between being loved and
being missed
among an agitation of your folk
your daughters – coming and going
us, my tribe, neighbours passing by
and stopping to say, sorry for your troubles
how did it happen? was there a surgery? what?
just that? while I hugged and hugged you
your shape filled my arms again

and again.

every few minutes I’d return to the white-clad
torso wrapped in a white knitted pullover with designs
that reminded me of the tree of life and rhomboid flowers
your jet black hair waving each time I (re)turned to you
to hug you some more, as a long lost and now found beloved doll
while a neighbour whispered in your ear
but who are you?

About the author
Alexandra Balm (née Dumitrescu) is a teacher, writer and mother. She has a PhD in literature from Otago with a thesis about Metamodernism in Literature, and a Master of Creative Writing from AUT. She has published poems, short stories, and academic articles in journals in NZ, America, Australia and Europe: Takahe, Tui Motu, Exquisite Corpse, Noise Medium, Double Dialogues, Inter-textes, Echinox, Tribune and Brain, Cognition, Behaviour, as well as in collective volume at Rodopi, Facts on File, Napoca Star, Monster Fish. In 2000 she jointly translated with Ioana Nan, Romanians and Romania by, Ioan Aurel Pop (Columbia UP). She was the first to use the concept of metamodernism in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. She lives in Auckland with her family. When she grows up or wins the lottery, she hopes to be a full-time writer.