Leaving somewhere a furrow Written by Manon Revuelta

Tūrei 16 Mei

Tuesday 16 May


What bears the light of


an earth-yellow desire or ability 

to go on

The wax

emerges from the bee

in scales clear as ice, 


& sweeping in

its slow glut 

of pollen glow.

It is warm. 

There is heat

in the thinnest wings,

in the single egg, words

for what silences us,

the living, encasing 

& encased by

the dead. Plasma,


when unbound 

from blood.


Short proboscises

reach the depths

of tiny mānuka blossoms.1

What reaches us,

what do we cause

to survive.

Small holes (in the silence (of soil)),

where black bees 

burrow like rain,2

where trees soften

into shapeless shreds,3 

where their knots 

have fallen out like teeth.4

A loop gently adorns a hole 

as though a wrist, 

perhaps framing where 

a dead branch

was engulfed 

by the expanding 

tissue of the wood;

perhaps mouthing 

a missing piece, cut out 

so a thing might pass through.

Ring & air,

nucleus & jelly wall; 

the two share a centre, 

unhollow one another.

As if to remind,

this is not the void 

but a harmless pebble of it,


to know it.

With paper, 

two children and I 

recreate the eyes of owls. 

I instruct them to place a black circle

within the yellow one: 

with this black circle, I explain clumsily, 

the bird will see in the dark, and 

I cannot remedy their puzzlement.


settling in

living in


The notion of home and of settling in was fraught for Perec, a child of Polish immigrants whose Jewish family name (the Hebrew Peretz) was buried within a French-assimilated one. 

Living in the war meant burying a box of jewellery and pearls in someone’s garden, excavating it after years, entrusting it to someone else for safe passage across land and water. 

Living in the war meant losing his mother to Auschwitz and his father to shrapnel. 

Living after the war meant running away from his adoptive uncle and aunt’s home, meant being sent to boarding school.

Living meant a day job in the archive of a neurophysiology research centre for nearly twenty years, cataloguing maps for thousands of webs of nerves. How I imagine those tangles of dendrites creeping out like tentacles from within their dossiers. 

Living meant adopting a pet phrase, life goes on

To live meant to write, to try meticulously to retain something, to cause something to survive, to wrest a few precise scraps from the void as it grows, to leave somewhere a furrow, a trace, a mark or a few signs.6


To live/to live in/to settle in:  water

settling by defying 



an empty pool

& entering 

unseen spaces. Water

still trickling into

mineral-rich cracks

deep in the earth, water

below Ōtepoti

where a silvered mollusc 

once lived,

a salt marsh flooded daily

by the tide.8 Water

suspending blood cells, 

speaking in a glint 

of tongue or tears. Water

meeting the thick black sap

of decomposed organisms

to make a thin film

of iridescence.9 Water 


from pores,

sought out and sucked up

by lasioglossum

the ngaro huruhuru

so drawn to sweat.


And is it still a body of water,

if it is so dispersed? Is this

the truer body? Am I

at my most existent 

in the traces I leave?

Single strands of hair,

long enough to measure months

of living, of going on.

A world exists

at each end.

Written in bed, Waiheke, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2023


1 Taarn’s work refers to the common honey bee as well as to ngaro huruhuru, Aotearoa’s native bees. Many of the 28 different species are black, hairy and stingless. Unlike hive colonies, a single female nurtures a small cluster in subterranean tunnels. Most ngaro huruhuru have shorter proboscises than common honeybees, suited to the native plants they pollinate.

Ngaro huruhuru nests.

Yana found layers of partially fossilised wood in the raw clay she gathered from a construction site in what was a floodplain in central Ōtepoti; it fell apart in her hands. “Time bears [space] away and leaves me only with shapeless shreds” - Perec.

Lucy has shaped clay rings around the holes in the kauri timber of the gallery floor. I wonder if they are knotholes: a common ‘weakness’ in wood, where a dead branch has a tenuous connection to the trunk that grew around it after dying, and is thus more likely to fall out.

Perec, Georges. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (London: Penguin, 1999), 36.

6 Perec. 92. Elsewhere, Perec remarks that “the earth is a form of writing” (79), as we map and find meaning in our known portions of it. And I think the inverse is true, that writing is a form of geology. That ‘retaining’ can feel specifically like fossilisation words I bury and dig up, preserve and burn through. A poem’s seed seems to me like that tiny flicker of energy driving an insect, covered over quickly with sediment and protected from the elements, undergoing a slow transformation below the surface of life, work, meals, sleep, footsteps, conversations.

And writing is not unlike that elusive body of water either; it is, by some cruel magic, only ever in a future or past tense. The desire to write is not relieved by the sensation of writing; there is only the sapped aftermath, the aching muscles of having written, for during the action of it the writer goes elsewhere. Which is its own kind of relief.

8 A single shell “popped out” from deep in the layers of Yana’s clay, toward the end of install. She imprinted its form into the pool.

9 The raw clay was covered in a rainbow sheen from the oil it held.






Manon Revuelta

Manon Revuelta is a writer based in Tāmaki Makaurau, working mainly in poetry. She is one of three 2023 Writers in Residence at RM Gallery, and has written recently for The Art Paper, Enjoy and Michael Lett. In 2019, she completed a Masters of Creative Writing at the IIML, Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, and was awarded the Biggs Family Poetry Prize for her collection. She published a chapbook, girl teeth, in 2018.