Johanna Emeney


Cool Storage

This big white room meant the difference
between freshness and spoil.
Mum and Dad took turns
to stack the day’s leftover fruit and veg
onto blurry shelves,
the hair on their arms thick as peach fur.

It was too hot in the shop,
but now nothing would expire before its time.
All they could think of was how they’d won
longer use-by for their labours.
How far they’d come
to afford preservation.



Winter arrives,
a white envelope
on the kitchen table.

Inside, a blanket letter
from The National Tumour Bank
(its regional representative)
who seeks permission
to store a small sample of tissue

This spare flesh,
during the resection
of a malignancy,
would normally be discarded.

Instead, it will be kept
as a snap-frozen block
for cancer research,

encoded and anonymous.

You can be assured
no one will ever know
who the donor was.


I Am Losing You Again

I am losing you again.
I cannot station
a fresh-faced guard
one metre from your bed
every morning and night
to guarantee your safety.

I cannot enforce
the confiscation
of your belt, or hang
the curtains on strong magnets,
take control of your hair ties,
your phone charger.

I cannot check on you
by hourly text
or even call three times a day
without seeming obvious
or overbearing.
But if I don’t hear back,

if you don’t pick up—
all my mind reads
is your last sorry I love you
in the kids’ orange pencil,
its whys running out
of reason and clarity
at the point of

Please Turn Over.



Johanna Emeney is a New Zealander. She teaches Creative writing at Massey University, where she recently gained her doctorate in creative writing. She also co-facilitates the Michael King Young Writers Programme with Ros Ali. In 2015, she was shortlisted in the Montana Poetry Prize and commended in the International Hippocrates Poetry Prize.