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EncounterI came home after a long long time and in the hallwayEncounter by Meggie272
I bumped into a seventeen year old girl.
I said ‘it’s me’ but she shook her head like
there was water in her ears and salt in her eyes.
I said ‘it’s okay’ but she looked at me blankly.
I said ‘it won’t kill you’ but she hurried past
and turned that dark corner.
In the room I grew up in
I opened a wardrobe and an old friend fell out,
the yearbook photos where we sat side by side
staring the camera down. Arrogant and eagle-eyed.
That year it rained and I wore his jacket
until it smelt like him and me and his hair
and my smile and the wet grey roads
I walked every afternoon with it
heavy on my shoulders –
and only then did I give it back.
I do not know where he is now. It’s
* * *
It took me a while to figure out
what had been different about waking up
in the city. Not the cars. Not the new walls
I lived within. Nothing like that.
Eventually, I knew i
AlchemyI often think I left half of meAlchemy by Meggie272
in my mother’s cupboard;
as a child I would inch open the ill-fitting
white-peeling wood and look at small dusty
bottles of coriander, vanilla extract,
dye. I believe I thought of it as
all the potential of life itself
trapped within sticky-
lidded glass. An apothecary,
profound and intricate and strange.
I was so excited
by the one that seemed to be a vial of blood,
at the thought of dropping it
and staining the floorboards red.
I wanted to put all of it
in one of our heavy saucepans
with the handle Dad made of old piping
and boil it till it stung my eyes,
till some grown up said to me:
‘what’s in that brew? I think you know things
that you shouldn’t,
PalmleafThere have always been hard, bright prophetsPalmleaf by Meggie272
their words filling our mouths like
the tipping of sunlight
There have always been Christs
placing two fingers under our chins and smiling,
blinking dust from kind and distant eyes.
We have always asked questions of the sky.
Someone has always tipped our faces up, and said: ‘Look –
look. There it is.’
This is what we find.
LittleHis parents were shouting,Little by Meggie272
and hated each other,
flush-jawed and aching across
the cheap table, the cheap hot rash
of kitchen air all filled with meat and
3 veg and everything else,
so the boy went outside,
where it was a desolate and bitter July,
with the paddock grasses of frost-slick knives;
drew his knees up to his chest
like a foetus
in the black coiling
womb of sky.
A mad neighbour shouted – a cow
lowed, a soft sad call.
He stayed sitting
for a while
kept his blood cool
until he'd lined his lungs
with winter, bright.
Doe During Hunting SeasonYou used to dance after harvestDoe During Hunting Season by Braxton-T-Rutledge
with cold November clinging like
your white singlet. Stockings
like elm stalks in the morning.
Dancing flats rooting through
topsoil half frozen.
Stag leaps left you breathless,
steaming, soaked cloth dripping
off your shoulders. You'd sling the shoes
like salt behind a left shoulder.
Barefoot in the furrows trudging
How did you live without a studio or a stage?
How did you survive with cows
all chewing and shitting.
How you could have ever wanted
I lay under a Moreton Bay fig by a river that knew me at eight, and then eighteen. Occupied by black swans and leopard-spotted jellyfish as vicious as each other. All its silt between my toes, all its dark brown sway splitting apart the sun. An exam encroaching – I smoked myself pretentiously sick in a thick and golden heat.
I looked up through the leaves and stubbed out my cigarette and thought that I was definitely owed some kind of statement.
My dad lay under this tree when I was a kid, splashing in the earthy cold of the river. I remember I looked to him because I was frightened of the bodies of the jellyfish, their mottled bloat, and how they crept near to me in the black water like bad thoughts in the night. I remember him looking not at me, looking up through the leaves. I wanted my dad to look at me but I didn’t want him to see me scared, so I didn’t know whether to call his name or not.
This was a learning place, before, and then a white man built a university in sandstone twenty metres away, and then my father and then I lay underneath this tree ten years separate. There must be some wisdom here for this fig tree to impart by now. That’s how this shit works.
I asked: fig tree, why am I eating so much crap. Why am I the ugly friend. Why am I so tired, why am I so sad, why does the last girl I had sex with avoid my eyes. Two months ago I was so in love with this place, this dried out patch of city, and now I only want to go home to the fishing village and see our blind-faced sheep again. See my dad come through the door with rain on his collar. See the railway tracks where my parents walk slowly with their old black dog. Fig tree, what if the old black dog dies before I go back home, what do I do then. What if my dad dies. Fig tree, I am feeling sick every day again like I did when I was fourteen, and I don’t trust my body any more. Fig tree, why do I miss my family so much. Fig tree, why don’t I call them. Fig tree, I cannot reconcile my childhood and my stupid, pimpled adolescence and whatever the hell it is that I am now. Fig tree, past and present and future are all screaming at me. Fig tree, I am really fucking unhappy. And I have no one to tell this.
The fig tree answered only:
you idiot. You little fool.
And I had an exam very soon, so I had to make do with that.
A month later, I saw my dad again. We passed the river as he dropped me off at the university and left. I pointed it out, and told him that I remembered him and me together there when I was young. I told him that one night I swam in it with my friends, or tried to, but it was too cold. I didn’t mention that this was after a lot of cheap white wine, or that the moon shone off our mostly-naked bodies, or that I wrapped my coat around myself instead of getting properly dressed afterwards, and my friend told me I looked like a flasher. I didn’t tell him that it was the place I went to have gentle mental breakdowns, dying acutely beneath the fig leaves until the wind got cold enough to resurrect me. I told him that I still visited it a lot. He looked ahead at the road and smiled, brutal afternoon sunlight shafting through the window and illuminating all the dust on the dashboard.
“That river. I haven’t swum in that river since, oh….1954.”
I watched the university’s clock tower approach. A flash of the river water through dark green leaves. Him too, as a kid. Well, Perth’s a small place, and it was smaller in the 1950s. Here in this corner of the state I am always all ages at once, as is my father: he is ten and twenty five and fifty and seventy-one wherever we go, the stories falling like leaves. “Were there jellyfish in it back then as well?”
(this and other semi-true blog posts at sovteck.wordpress.com)