Lavender twisted up the wooden pallets either side of the front door to his house. I remember the spring it was so tall you couldn’t see into his room from the street anymore and all the pages of the books that piled up next to his bed were stained with a soft purple. That was the same spring I moved in and we couldn’t put blue tac on the walls so all our drawings were pegged to pieces of string running through the house.
And when we lived apart I filled the old tire that was dumped out the front yard of my sharehouse with soil and planted the lavender we bought at the markets. And when he would catch the train to my house we would spend every morning looking at my garden. When I left he told me he was afraid he would wilt without my touch.
Even with my eyes closed I see the outline of the headland over the water and I swear I can hear his voice in the waves and taste the mandarins I would sneak from the tree in his backyard. And I can still hear him laughing in his sleep from hours away but when I wake up the space around me feels cold without him there.
We talked once in the back room of a party I wasn’t invited to
moving through dimly lit bottles of beer
I had wanted to talk to her because she had been the only girl he loved
and I had wanted to love her too
She told me she always had to have flowers in her room
so for her birthday I drove an hour to her parents house with a bunch of daisies on the back seat and hid in the dark when she came too close
But now, our voices are waterlogged
sinking into the dirt and mud.
I’m not sure I want this anymore
(honi soit 2016)
seventy cent love
It cost seventy cents to tell you I loved you. Scrawled in black ink across an empty page I ripped from my pocket art diary, the paper sinking into the wood of the kitchen table.
For your nineteenth birthday I made you a terrarium in a tiny glass jar and caught the bus to your house with it resting between my thighs. We went to dinner with your parents at some Japanese restaurant in Kingsford and I held your hand under the table.
A month later you sat around my kitchen with my family eating gnocchi that my mother had made and sneaking off to my bedroom to drink white wine from the bottle.
I thought I’d tell you that night on the cliffs near your house, a flask swaying back and forth between us as we crouched in a small cave hiding from the wind. Or the night we sat on the steps of the laundromat on Oxford Street, and I cried and you stared straight ahead.
I thought it probably didn’t matter because you had her and I had him and somewhere in between that was us.
But a week after sliding the letter through the post box I ran from your house in the rain and crouched on the side of the road head between my knees waiting for the last bus home.
I felt it most when I was drinking, a drunken drumbeat pounding against my ribs. It was you and me when we stayed up until four in the morning eating cereal in my bed at sixteen.
It was you and me that afternoon we drove to the Blue Mountains and when we got to The Three Sisters it was too dark to see anything beyond the barrier.
It was you and me when I called you up in the middle of the night and cried in the taxi to your place and laid in your bed and got mad when you slept upstairs.
And now my mother is worried I’m going crazy because one night I came home shaking so much I couldn’t walk and I want to ask my sister if she was like this too.
And these pills are only burying you deeper inside my chest.
(growing strong 2016)
I push my hand through the gap in the wall and somebody grabs it and pulls me in and
I’m trapped between the rough of the wall and the rough of every man that’s ever
touched me, and tonight feels like a Tom Waits song and I’ll drink to that, I’ll drink to
everything. We always end up at the pub near the station, the one where you never get
ID’d because you’ve been there so many times. And everyone at the bar is decaying,
hunched over a leaking pint and I feel sick when they look at me from behind the
smell of rotting tobacco. I pull down my shorts so they cover more of my knees and so
the man behind you will stop staring.
Sometime after 9pm everything changes, and every drink is a tug o’ war between life
and death. It doesn’t matter who they are anymore, we still sink into the shadows of
the street when they pass, pulling our coat further over our shoulders and tightening
our hands into fists in our pockets.
And on the way home I run through the park that separates the bus stop from my
street because it’s easier than waiting to hear someone’s footsteps on the gravel
behind me and four AM just doesn’t feel the same in the suburbs.
(published 2015 in reclaim the night zine)
I want to tell you about how the rotting smell of the lake only hits you halfway across the bridge to the mainland, and the taste of fear in your mouth as it sours in the back of your throat and curdles in your stomach. I want to tell you about the way the heat bubbles and rises through the air above the first line of trees. I want to tell you about the wrench of the machines as the thread pulls and the levers twist and crash through the air like knives through my blood, tearing my flesh.
But you look at me and all you see is skin skin skin, and my breath, oh my breath only matters when it’s coiled against yours frosting the bones deeper than your chest.
And I can only look at you through the bottle, it’s emptiness thickening the air between us forming a solid in my lungs that whispers to me to not breathe in too much or you’ll disappear.
I’m not sure if I’m hollowing myself out to make room for you or if you’re burying yourself in the empty spaces that hide beneath my fingertips.
And you conceal yourself beneath a cage of solid steel that is welded shut somewhere against your middle because your father yelled at you for getting blood and guts on the carpet last time you opened up. So when I reach out to you all I feel is surface, the smoothness of your edges burning my palms, leaving welts on my skin. I still feel the ghost of you like a necklace that’s been yanked from my chest.
And yet I’m not always sure if you’re real or if they pressed you together, spat you out and boxed you up like the rest. If I could go to the store and find twenty more of you sitting neatly in their plastic packaging blankly staring back at me.But it’s been five years now since you first dug your claws into my neck and the wound is still weeping. The wound never stops weeping.
It stains the white of my skin and exudes a smell like rotting carcasses that keeps them all away. And everything is yellowing and my teeth are falling out into your hands and you drop them so when you walk away the heel of your boot crushes them and turns them to powder. And slowly all of me falls off and you catch me then drop me to the floor until I am heaped in the corner like a pile of sand. And is it me or is it you that people pretend not to see when they sit across the room filling their glasses? And the wound is still weeping.
(published 2015 in Hermes Literary Journal)