Image by Christian Cook

After two years away
so much of this place is still there
is still past tense,
though I am steadily reclaiming,
cleaning, rinsing, scrubbing
is not linear
is not tight ’n forward
is literally the opposite of whatever you think it is

I’ve never known a natural warmth in winter
just the perpetual forcing of it,
like when I’m in socks, two jumpers, and gloves
or when I stand in the shower for a bit too long
or when I convince myself a 10:00 p.m. pickup
is synonymous with “warm & cozy”

The one time I didn’t feel pressured
was on the bus,
where we passed Rangitoto so smoothly on the road
you’d think we could walk straight across to it,
from the seats made for comfort
in the city where he never was,
and where I could always be

Serena Ngaio Simmons


Serena Ngaio Simmons (Ngāti Porou) is a queer, transmasculine writer and performer born and raised on the island of O’ahu. She is currently pursuing a masters in Indigenous Politics at University at Hawai’i at Mānoa, and her work has been featured in Tayo Literary Magazine, Hawaii Review, Blackmail Press, LitHub, and Ora Nui. Instagram: @hipstahfawk