She said we’ll go for a walk, but first,
we apply glitter to our lids
and that sticky gloss tasting of cough medicine
Wearing low-slung jeans feels like freedom-
we have ambitions, we dance in the school gym
to Shakira, and to bands I can’t remember
The reasons we eat lunch together, the same reasons we fight

The cousin, he’s in his second year of high school,
stinks of an aggressively masculine body spray
We take turns pretending to inhale
the cigarette he offers us, no smoke spiralling
I hold my chin up and forward
We strut into the takeaway shop, we buy hot chips
(it’s not there anymore, something better took its place)

A sleepover in the suburban sprawl, I’m only temporary
Thirteen is scary-glamorous
until it it’s just scary, fits like a poorly made dress
pinching and distorting us, blue mascara bravado
We buy lollies by the fistful, her house is ugly but convenient,
she hates it here because she has to
On the drive home, I think I’ll never go back
and I never do, I never do

Today the clouds hang too low to be real
I’d rather watch them than, oh, never mind
Somebody rolls their eyes
at the thing you fear the most
and you feel a little less human for it

They say words are survivable
but we know better, don’t we?
Fists curl to press crescent marks
so your palm can tell a story
Shame has an intolerable weight

We have a relay team of misfortunes

Torch passed back and forth, back and forth

We’re tired but it fills the silence

Exorcise the problem

Through word and gesture

 

We could talk through ten, fifteen

Assorted mugs of hot drinks

There’s just something about

Righteous anger

That makes the day go faster

I remember early childhood in an open place,
feet itch in vivid memory of late summer,
how the grass was dry and
spiked between my toes

A paddock reached out to the horizon,
one week lasted more than forever
Bones of cattle were a jigsaw puzzle,
chalky in my hands

In the evening a dinner party,
maybe once or twice or ten times
I moved around the legs of strange adult-creatures

The air was warm and the stars just out of reach

My father died in Autumn,
while the last leaves shivered free,
so when I looked outside
it was beautiful.

He passed beneath the same sky
that I watch every evening,
in the city where I live
and never called him.

The obstacles were real and necessary,
like loyalty and hurt and shame,
which means my grief is
assumed to be small and containable.

I have a painting he composed on canvas board,
it’s too big for our apartment,
and I trip over it most days
but I know how to love him now.