here’s where i find love

in strawberry gardens and grape vines and the bitter warmth

of sage in brown butter. there’s something about love –

it comes alive in kitchens and underneath the gaping wild skies:

as if between the candyfloss clouds and the heaving soil

love flutters like laundry in the wind. and it is the pause between

our mouths, and it is my one fine failing, and it is carved into tree bark

and grown from the wet earth, and it is fierce like red and deep

as the sleep in the minds of mountains. i have carried it

swollen in my belly and it has grown like a child. i have grown

with it, and it has twined between my feet and tripped me.

and still i love,

and still i keep on loving.

should i dig up my own house to find graves?

i’m not a big believer in zodiacs, but i’m an earth sign,

so i like digging up fossils; i’m an archaeologist 

of myself, and other dead things. you don’t like it

when i talk like this, but you know i prefer shakespeare’s tragedies,

the kiss of a blade, heartbreak and falling apart quietly;

yesterday i told you “dying gives us size.” 

 

if i peel back

the newspaper skin of my house, it will crinkle,

its careful origami folds smudge into something crumpled-up,

something that belongs with milk packets and banana peels

in the bin; i’ll have to root through the world

to hunt for half-erased ghosts.

 

sometimes i balance my tears on the edge of my fingernails,

trembling softly, bubbles of blistered despair that

catch on broken skin and collapse onto the plateau

of my lined palms. hands make good landscapes

for playing god and good instruments for casting shadows 

against the wall. 

 

there are versions of myself i can’t remember

and versions that i can’t ever  forget

because time is water soluble, and my mother didn’t like them;

i’m difficult to like, because i’m trying very hard to grow

thorns and it itches, like ghosts or the unmarked graves

of these silenced selves.

 

if you’re supposed to build things on solid foundations

why are we born as babies, fragile and in love

with every new thing that makes a sound? i’m an earth sign,

i want to dig into my skeleton, rattle its bones,

and unbury myself, pick off the stone memorial

from myself, and leave flowers.

dreams for myself

i want to be chrome and unflinching,

as sharp as a splutter of oil hot from the pan,

and made of nothing but edges and scrap metal.

i want the blisters on my fingers to curl around the universe,

and hold it up; my feet to dare, to dance,

and every scar to end in a victory. i want

to be too bright for your eyes, something blinding:

a flashlight in the dark, or the sun,

too honed for coal-kissed fingers.

call me marmalade, call me switchblade;

i want to get stuck between your teeth

like the memory of orange pips

or something sweet.

the gift

i am in the kitchen amidst knives and carrot tops,
taking the heads off of green chillies and thinking to myself,
this is a gift, today, even the backs of my thighs
which itch from prickly heat, the sweat gathering in the hair
at the nape of my neck, the vague nausea of summer.
the kitchen is a lesson in patience, i obey the fire alone,
because i know what it is to burn, i know what it is to splinter
and spark and destroy the universe with the heat of myself.
i also wait for the water to simmer, every bubble another gift
closer to boiling away, a postcard from a tea-scented place;
everything that smells like heat is a part of the summer,
it hovers in my breath and the warm air i exhale into the wind.
it’s strange how we all breathe differently.

the literary present

everything is always happening, all at once:
violin concertos in my head,
the existence of Saturdays,
my heart and its quiet cadence,
aliveness,
hurricanes in the wind,
every tube light dip-dyed in the sun,
my feet on the bathroom floor,
whispers,
the creeper twined around my window,
the crackle of a gas stove,
every earthquake murmur in a kettle,
silence,
thunder cleaving the sky,
trembling hands touching,
the books growing old on my shelf,
everything, everything.

growth

what is left after you outgrow the favourite parts of yourself – once the flowers fall off, the trousers sit too high above the ankles, the bitter gourd seeds slip into a red-orange kiss of impeding rot? do you sift through the remains and the … Continue reading growth

i am trying to boil away the bitter parts of myself in cups of tea – the anxiety, the loneliness, the urge to disappear into the night, the endless tears. i am trying to purify the taste of sorrow into something sweet, something that smells … Continue reading

science should have the answers

i want to take a homeopathic approach to myself,
find a rhythm which fits with the jagged edges
and the dark parts, something catchy enough that it doesn’t matter
when i sing out of tune, and a little sugar coated
to ease my sweet tooth. i don’t want to apologise
all the time, a litany of sorry for troubling you,
sorry i wasn’t looking where i stepped,
sorry my mouth is too big for my face,
sorry my shoes are so damp all the time,
socks can get a little weepy, so can selves
and i am working on stitching a whole one
out of holes and patchwork. the real tragedy
of course, is that i have forgotten
how to talk to my mother, how to feel comfortable
around friends, how to live except gratuitously,
and the taste of sleep. and i am growing,
like a seed, or my waistline, or a tumour,
and i don’t know how to stop.