A late thank you

A late thank you

For L.S


You were an exercise in patience – not just at first,

but just before I was supposed to die.

You were there when the back beat faded;

when you saw that lash of fear drop into my back bones, my breathing bones.


Blisters pimpled my tongue, body acidic from dying.

Roped heavy; tied to a bollard, brown water lapping at my lungs –

you set me free for a while until I could be born again.

Your father fugued out because I was destined to expire.

Said ‘go with it, but be prepared to bleed.’

I understood, but with a disproportionate papal fury, so I stole you away

and your mother offered me champagne and strawberries.


We danced and fought and kissed and I slapped you. Everyone saw.

They saw our mouths and bodies smash and shiver,

they saw how I lost myself to you and your perfect teeth.

It was a place where no one else could come –

a place we would break each other, then stitch each other up

only to split more at the seams.

When we fell apart again, you were the only pill I could swallow.


You wanted the next minute more than the last as I faded in fluorescent light.

But before that, we abandoned any pretence, yielding to every mania because we were

twenty-one and just out of the nest.

KFC picnics in Pinkenba where we could scream at the ships

then lay down in the grass and scream for each other until my lungs

took on a death rattle that would become so familiar.


I would cough and you would grow harder inside me.

But this was the beginning, and we were wet thighed,

red-lipped surrender, slapped faces, dancing hips, lollies, pot,

fast food, late nights in alleyways, later mornings and threads of blood.


At the end, days turned to nights, going nowhere as my light faded –

the darkest point always before dawn; still as a domino before it tumbles.


Your hands were on my breast, my heart was in your teeth and I couldn’t

sing you under as pain climbed the ladder of my spine, bone by bone.

Late nights in my single room stopped, but you kept me breathing –

muscles turning to mush; hip bones cast into the air like a mast.


We would lay my body in bed as one would with anatomically correct bones.


I stopped walking, so you carried me,

putting me to bed on midnight jaunts to my hospital room.

I remember you walking from the city to South Brisbane with my favourite food.

Just for me. And I loved you because we were boxfuls of faith and fear.


I would cough until ribs split like cheap matches against cordite,

my gums and teeth all bloodied, lips periwinkle blue, arms blackened from the punctures

that would always miss the vein. Hit and miss and miss again.


arteries blow and veins don’t grow


You were there when I woke from my little death.

You held me in your hands when I was flushed of face –

my cheeks full of breath and fluid,

wearing in these lungs now awakened and in me –

lungs I always thought I had thieved until now.

My lungs bleeding her blood; her lungs bleeding mine.

And to think I’m not sure if I ever thanked you.

17 thoughts on “A late thank you

    1. It was such a moment of beauty when L called and thanked me. We had a long chat, which comprised of laughter and tears and I just kept saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’ We were only 21, and for him to make himself available to me like he did when it was almost guaranteed that I was going to die is a HUGE thing. Oh, gosh we fought, but we were in so much young, raw love xoxo


  1. Sitting here shaking my head, as I stare at my iPad. Speechless. Too often we fail to celebrate those who so affect our lives at those moments when they’re needed the most, but damn girl, you’ve done that in spades! If they’ve done nothing else in the world, they’ve done this for you, to you. And that deserves to be noted by all of us.

    Damn, this is good!


    1. My dear Lachlan is now a father to two beautiful children. I went to his wedding in 2008 and I wept with happiness for my friend who had found love with a wonderful woman. Your words just made me cry!!!! Much love to you, big guy xoxo


      1. As good a denoument as any – good things happening to a good man. But the idea that you had thieved your lovely lungs? Unthinkable. You have earned those lungs many times over, with the countless ways that you touch so many lives.

        I envy you so much, for your ability to plumb the depths, to lay hands on your inner self, and for your ability to, and willingness to, share it with the world . I need your words in my shallow and unexamined life, as they force me to look at what I’ve been glossing over, they remind me to FEEL the feelings I tend to bury – the gratitude, the frustrations, the residual fear – all these and so many more that I tend to scab over in my effort to achieve “normalcy”, whatever the hell that is. But from time to time I need to peel back the mask for awhile, to remind myself what lives beneath, and when I do, it is your words that I read. They have power, some of their experience is shared, and they make me FEEL. And so I can laugh, cry, vent for a bit, and then get back on with keeping on. That’s vital to me Carles, and I’m just one of many who are affected by your words.

        Theived my ass. Keep sharing, and keep touching our lives. And have your own share of joy while you do!


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