I used to see how far I could flirt with you, you say. A cool descriptor
for those solar interventions, the way you draped yourself across
the stair rail like a scarlet boa, slouchy, ever-ready in my path—
the ungentle comet of your smile.
But not at first. At first you were on point, dizzyingly vertical, haughty
as a freshly sharpened pencil, staccato with the intensity of your sharps,
fearful of breaking. That’s what caught my eye.
The way you’d jolt from standstill to over the speed limit to curt-braked arrest
in a sentence span.
We were spellbound. We laughed in the shock wake of your commanding
awkwardness. You trembled— a routine tremor trembled you—
and didn’t blink. The class moved on but I never did.
And from that day, you seemed to commit to ambush.
You were always already in rooms when I entered, studiedly scanning
a dog-eared paperback. Not that you’d acknowledge me, necessarily—
too busy with the important stuff— but your presence was sticky
with spider silk.
But then you might: acknowledge me. Ask with poe-faced
concentration with zero lead-in vibrating down that breathless runway
speech Ah— how would you feel about a dog-sized elephant?
I discovered we had the groke, Bruno S, oversized cardigans,
a love of lilac, Jarvis Cocker, and the neurasthenic in common; that
some days you had to leave the house early because you were having
too many negative thoughts.
King of the spontaneous mood descriptor as intimate offering,
you favoured those melancholy-shaded words fallen from grace:
gingerly or meek, as in I feel very meek.
Am I just an experiment? you asked.
Am I? I wondered back.
And when we spoke again by phone after a two-year drought,
I’m bathing in this.
I wasn’t the only one struck by your habit of cutting to the
fundamental, but I noticed your what do I feel right now?
had the power to fleetingly anchor,
to alight you from the restlessly far flung, sidereal place
where you spent so much time. Still do.
Words suspend you and balloon you out: the spider at his silk
casting those tensile safety/signal lines, words.
Silky, might that word always be yours:
your floss of hair your soft abrupt the effortless slide
your presence makes into the sounding depths.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones