Tessa Scott

Tessa Scott is the writer and graphic artist behind Alba’s Empire Image Studio (www.albasempire.com | @albasempire). Born in New Zealand, Scott came to Germany in 2006, via Australia, where she studied design and photo-imaging (with Ingeborg Tyssen) & worked as a designer in social history museums. A graduate of the Sydney University creative writing MA, she majored in poetics and short fiction. Her poems and short stories have been published by the University of Sydney Press. She lives and works in the northern port city of Hamburg as a communications designer & translator.



This short cycle of poemages from the Alba’s Empire Image Studio starts in paradise and ends in the veggie patch. On the way through it explores notions of coupling, doubling, and polar opposites: reflections versus reality and the construction of nostalgia.


The texts themselves function as a kind of compass around the idea of being antipodean: or, the state of being from New Zealand, and all that this implies in terms of distance from and to. Many of the photo images are constructed from black & white prints made in the Southern Alps of New Zealand in the 1920s, on a Pentax SLR by Scott’s mountaineering grandparents Walter & Mildred Scott.

Paradise Diptych


Peeled off McCahon’s wall &
carried through the wet green of French Bay.
The paradise diptych hangs on brass-link chain,
from bolts dug deep in twelve-foot kauri stud.

Every evening,
Adam takes Eve’s
swerving curves for a test drive.
— over a square of monkish blue
under a scumbled sky,
they cast their net wide
& catch four
little birds

The Sounds


The Tasman Sea rolls into the water,
hoisting our boat broadside to the swell.
— we wallow low in a chiselled chasm,
cradled in the wind’s teeth —
stopped dead by the sounds, we
straddle the rip, where
salt meets sweet.

In the Visitor’s Centre, the sign over the door reads
He Tangata something and postcards tell me we are in
100 % Pure New Zealand.

From the viewing window,
We watch waterfalls fall upwards,
skeins of white mist coat supple black rock,
crystaline shards of our songs,
cut thru canned air.

E Ihowa Atua / O nga iwi matou ra / Ata whakarongona; Me aroha noa /
Kia hua ko te pai / Kia tau to atawhai / Manaakitia mai

Jenny’s Honey Shed


We drive the 309 Road inland,
Jenny stands, padlock in hand.
We pull to the verge to taste manuka honey.

In Jenny’s Honey Shed.
Ice-cream sticks balance in tiny pots of liquid the colour of wet bees.
Jenny treads softly &
waits for the bees to return.

She lies on a bed of white, star-petal blooms, her shape thick with bees.
Jenny stands & listens for the
hive, as we taste the last
of the honey.

Notes on Salt


We stop
at Lake Grassmere
On our way south,
to gawk at rocks of salt
as big as rats
— the sea sits in a groove in your palm,
a washed, pink, salt pan.

Behind the Nation’s Salt Stack
the road whittles down
to a gravel track.
& ends in a boat ramp
that juts
into the water.

I slip the handbrake
& roll us down the crusted concrete –­
the windows fill up
& our lungs fill up
with ocean
as cold as
Waldmeister slushie.

Please understand—
I did not mean to drown us.
I just needed to know
if the salt could wash us clean,
or — wash you away, or —
find me other
than I am.


Gift Shop Europe


Last night, my dreams took me to Europe.
At least, a cable car and a gift shop.
We walk in the heat down a broad, dusty street

& sit on steps to ease shoes off

aching feet.

Behind us, a wind turbine turns on its axis,
its heavy whump heard only by farmers
who wake in the night,
if it stops—

A crystal clear lake appears at my feet
I think: “at last, a crystal clear lake”.
I dive in & float up — my own shadow follows me like a hungry shark.
I wonder, when the real rocks, fish & crystal clear lake,
Are coming back.

The astounding symmetry of every

Thing in this northern flatland —

with no hills to set the scale.
Long, low, endless

The French newsreader on ARTE

has jiggly eyebrows.

I switch over to ARD

& find no such


Another Island


I come from another land.
An island.

It’s a long way from my island to me.
The light hurts. The colours shout.
The roads are slick with carnage.
— Possums, mostly.

At the Nelson Street off-ramp,

Despite 4 lanes of merging traffic &
tailgating arseholes

the sheer drop –

I glance out to the harbour,

& say hullo, Rangitoto, every day.

Did I ever see your dirty white ship,
Scraping the split wooden piles
at Princes Wharf?

another boatload of refugees from the acid north
Come to wonder how
anyone could live
On an island
On the edge
Of the


The Aviator


His bag is
strapped & locked. He waits for the taxi in an empty house.

Spring sun stripes honey floorboards
under tightly furled luggage.
He flies across a map of America —
bursting sound barriers.

He cruises,
his ears fill with vacuum & pop open,
like soft flowers for headphone bees to sup upon.
Windows curve behind him, a diadem of blue bled out to black.

Language slips: new words nest under his tongue.
Night falls from the wings of his plane,
drifting down at

The Milky Way, seen from the Veggie Patch


In the spiral arm of the galaxy,
we two pins with cold legs
stand in the veggie patch
past bedtime,
to stargaze.

The Milky Way washes over us:
two satellites cruise by —
they hurry away from each other
on urgent sky business —

Sweeping the high tops of the windbreaks with our torch —
we make mysteries for the cows in
The next paddock.

The hundreds of shooting stars — probably also
deserve a mention, but I think twice
before putting them
in this poem.


by | May 23, 2017 | Author, Author(s)hip, Tessa Scott