Leila Lois is a woman of Kurdish and Celtic heritage who has lived most of her life in Aotearoa. Her Kurdish ancestors fled oppression in Iraq in the seventies and her parents moved from London to Aotearoa soon after she was born. She has been living on Kulin land / Melbourne since 2018, working as a dance educator during the day and practising choreography and writing in her free time. In her poems, Leila explores a personal sense of origin that, like the ocean, binds several landscapes and times, coming back to the idea that a timeless, boundless love pervades. Her publishing history includes Southerly Journal, Djed Press, Delving Into
Dance and Salient.
(After the woodcut print by Escher)
I. In the winter forests of Cymru,
blackened hills, skeleton trees,
I remember thinking once I’d seen
an adder’s garnet eye gleam
like a dark apple in moss
on a dusk-cloaked yew,
its scales chromed like chainmail
caught by the midnight moon.
II. The legend of Shahmaran
from the Kurdish mountains tells
of a snake goddess who lies
in a honeyed well-
divine, wise, a vision of beauty,
her flesh an elixir for immortality.
III. I am told,
where I now stand,
serpent is God of water and
before time, beneath orange clay,
the sleeping rainbow serpent lay
until, like lava, he emerged
casting rivers, mountains & streams,
eyes open in sleep;
a meandering, wakeful dream.
Here, the rains leave rainbows-
endless conduit to weave
paths from one watering hole to another,
renewing the parched ground
in the tumult of mid-summer.
IV. Snakes shed precious skin under golden sun;
an endless cycle, the vital constancy of change.