Reading topographic maps

By Helen Heath

Ash washed down to this gully.
A sense of trespass persists
like sneaking into an old lady’s
backyard. The trickle
of the creek makes me want to pee.
The hills are angry parents and
we are a pair of ticks,
with our teeth in the skin of the land.

My father tells the legend of Ridgeside,
the long gone family house on the hill.
Even the tennis court is bush now,
the lawn roller hiding under weeds.
We are more than grubby wild kids.
A lost house is proof of the status
we should’ve had. Our edge defined
by a strike-slip fault –
old hard greywacke bedrock pushed up
to the crest of Belmont Hill.

Photo by unaciertamirada. Used under a Creative Commons license.



Helen Heath promotes award-winning books for a top New Zealand publishing house and teaches people how to use social media to promote their business, by day. By night she hangs out on Twitter and blogs about writing, poetry and creativity. She’s been blogging on and off since 1999. She was accepted into the most prestigious creative writing school in New Zealand and completed her MA with Merit in 2009. Her thesis is a book of poetry, which she is currently preparing to approach publishers with. Her poetry has been published in many journals in New Zealand and Australia. Visit her at

One Response to “Reading topographic maps”

  1. Helen says:

    This is a moving, playful poem. Wonderful work and in a terrific ‘zine! Thank you!

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