We became another death
(the fulfilment of my internship).
Like a false syncope,
my grief would not let me claim you.
You came to me with bleeding gums and a dent in your jaw,
your broken gait like a barber cutting through
walls of plasticine with blunt scissors.
Bruised pride; your face a field of stubble I so loved jiving on my skin.
But first …
you were an uncertain algorithm of desire –
because you were never going to want me the way I wanted you.
Except, on a summer’s day, under umlauts of clouds, close to the border,
we pushed a kiss right through our chests like a bullet.
I was yours and you were mine and before we came up for air,
the earth had spun off its axis.
Purling into webs of light –
the softness of your cupped hands under my sunburned chin as we
tasted each other for the first time.
As salt danced across our skin, I ploughed my fingers through your hair
as clouds climbed behind us, then sunk with the sun like sabbath.
We cut our teeth on summer.
Sticky and wet like puppets of nature.
A curtain of devotion and great folly –
I grew attached to your shadow.
I’d fall off our bed of sin as you made me come to Bach,
and you would tell me stories of how you skulked up and down Cavill mall,
devout in your pilgrimage to find me on that first night at Schoolies.
You told me you would cry as you watched me sleep;
my childishly freckled cheek hemmed in by swathes of blonde hair.
You would wash your hands with such care in the darkness
(I liked to watch your panoptic palms somersault under tendrils of water)
You would drive along the Chelmer reach looking for me.
Once, I saw you.
I ran as fast as my body could lope with bleeding lungs,
but you never saw me.
I was jealous of the wind with its fingers in your hair.
Climbing lovingly into winter bones,
we knitted our bodies into an impenetrable pod where no one could touch us.
We shunned the world with aching hips and salty flesh
stuffing our mouths full, speaking a language only we knew –
believing ‘there is nothing else worth living for other than this’. You.
But I heard church bells pealing from promises that would bleed;
fistulas of memory fractured a fall and I began barking time;
howling spoonfuls of dirt into your mouth
your perfect fucking mouth
always open for mine;
a receptacle of love and all that was good in our world.
You were unmoving in arresting us in that space as I jettisoned the indifference,
but we rolled away from each other as broken mountains do,
and I began to not love us.
I garrotted you,
throwing you from your skin;
bones akimbo to the wind,
leaving a frayed man like a barometer of truth.
Fall in, fall out.
With the biting sick that bored into my body,
you were gone.
You never got to hear my new voice
or sweep the pads of your fingers over my new scars.
I can’t sing anymore, but my hair is long just as it was that first night you saw me
shuffling across blue linoleum in dimmed hospital corridors.
(I go out walking, after midnight, in the moonlight, just like we used to do.
I’m always walking after midnight, searching for you)
Seeking out the ground with eyes I put to bed so many years ago,
I would give you my grace (or cleave the moon in two)
but you will not let me.
So I press my fingers into the rivulets of my palms
knowing we will meet when the streets glow in their silence.
Throbbing asphalt still hot from the burning day –
just like our first days of warm hands and cold feet.
Like a splintered shard of shrapnel that will always itch under my skin,
I will always be that woman who loves you.
‘think of me when you sleep,
warm heart, cold feet.
In your dreams we will meet,
together soft and deep.
Wish I could be there with you now,
all my love and desire.
I think of you in despair
oh, when will I meet you there?
Not long, one more sleep,
think of me – warm heart, cold feet.’
– M.E.B 1995