I’m heading for it, the dark grey vending machine and its plastic cups,
even though I know its tea will taste of nothing but a brownish heat
and that I will burn all the taste buds off my tongue from drinking too fast.
Holding it diverts my fussing at your blankets, and blowing on it
to make curls of steam will stop me from asking you how you are feeling.
Suddenly I’m cantering towards you, fey, undiscovered, Copeland ‘87. Revelling in fleet unravelling heat, tangible speed, we span through the water, my face reeling, upright in tight shook air, while you held your breath, pushed darkness aside, till the salt became ice, weeding and rolled. Loaded, you dived and dived, inhaled by hush, until I thought my stopped eyeballs would split. Then up! your tongue slim and stripped, no barrier at the tomb of your throat, you erupted into drought, triumphant, sucking back the glittering dusk, slurping bawdily at the day’s cusp.
And I can’t believe I gently left you in the earth’s hot pool to stare at the side of a cave like it was an icon hammered by mystic tool. Covered in green mud, you toasted steam to the avalanche with a bottle of too-strong home brew, while I stood in the dark, looking at stone:
Ah!, was all I could say. Ah! the fireflies of Flat Rock. No wholeness, just a shallow perplexity and a feeling of loss.
After dark the pangs come harder, faster. The skin prickles with antfoot throbs, the eyeballs start to itch, salt heat pools behind the knees. Flipping the pillow over to the cool side will not appease it.
Nor will the flickering fridge light and handfuls of midnight berries, cubes of cold, dark chocolate or the crunch of ice from the star-shaped tray you bought.
So every night you pluck one, fresh from the sky, and feel your fluttering chest subside. Tonight it’s the curve of Cassiopeia’s breast. Hold it cupped in your hands, glittering and cold. Roll it like a marble across the shadows under your eyes, until it leaves silver tracks across your skin.
Squeeze it between your fingers like a grape and watch it pulsate with light. Hold your tongue. Breathe deep and keep it poised, peeled and shivering, let it drip its juices slowly into the hot, dry corridor of your throat.
Believe him the gardener
Teeth stripped stems percussive: tooth comb, fish bone, fingered little globes of surfacing blood,
less than arterial, the pricks of gorse, bright brilliance we could burst, skin’s checked force.
Lost in the bush, I was calm - now I wake charged with a crazy person’s worry shake,
while, undiverted, you work hand and fist, milking tight stems into pots, grip and twist,
whitely biting fruit to make juice. Firefly! now maddens with flung orbs the magnet sky,
tiny red planets sucked up, hung in luck. Count the clustered stars, blood points of our trust.
Red juice pools soft in the well of your lip, sweat beads your bare feet like clear berries strung.
Wading Roti’s hot skies, ocean soaked locks, drookit, mealie meal, arms spears, board a shield,
heart bursts. Rapt children run so fast from you, their feet leave redcurrants on the rocks.
In The Garden
He begs me to believe him and my head spills over into roiling memories. The Orion’s belt of nettle welts on my forearm that day we picked strawberries, his laugh at how red they were. Milk boiling over on the stove in frothy cascades, rusty flakes of foreign lipstick, the night he came home crying after hitting a badger on the slip road, the crush of garlic under the mortar and its lingering fingersmell, the bubble of blood to my cheeks after each kiss. In the garden, his hand is hot in mine while my eyes rake his face, searching frantically for more of her traces.
Saw silk under the macracarpa tree, with my skin left on the floor in leaves, and it winked like water. I looked closely, thought I might make a sign, drag it like liquid’s skin over mine - the under-inside of wings. Silk flew through my hands like tofu milk…. In a courtyard there were children singing, pushing their hips together, voices the metal keening of rubbed coins, and when I spat paan, I clanged up against my own rusted tongue. I tried out calling and heard back a yellow sky, took the fabric and covered my left eye, I knew that there was clearing to be done, and a maybe man with a sex-hot rage-up gun. I held onto the stars like monkey rungs and cut the bluest square. I had to come. So I spread distance taut, fixed love, pursuit, trust uplifted like a pulled parachute.