How to be old—we're all learning

Let me count the homes—a poem about not being homeless

In New Zealand as elsewhere, far too many are homeless and forced to be sleeping rough on the streets or in parks. I am immensely privileged to have had at least 25 homes. Even my most primitive shelter had a bed, an electric kettle, and running water. 

These are the homes I have lived in
for better or for better.

Fairlie cold and ghostly
Akaroa sweet relief
Hinds on a wide and windy plain
Belfast frogs and freezing works
Christchurch finally our own
Christchurch boarding
Christchurch flat
Geneva teeny studio
Geneva over a brothel
Versoix baby by the rails
Masterton rental
Masterton bungalow
Berhampore semi
Wadestown rosebuds
Sydney sailing above it all
Taranaki asbestos shack
Puponga swans and tidal flats
Cashmere flat without a kitchen
Taranaki relocate
Lake Ferry possums in the roof
Paekakariki bach by the sea
Lowry Bay cottage by the posh
Kyoto ancient wooden nest
Mukaijima academia
and home to roost in Wellington
1940 art deco
like me.

Good, bad or very good
I’ve always had tiles or tin
to protect my head
always a shelter, always a bed.

Rachel McAlpine