Lung Rubble

By | 1 February 2017


angling for a booth we settle for the bar. the bartender hovers in front of us. its date night. he locks eyes with her. can i buy you a drink? she squeezes my hand. i hold onto it. sure, if she gets one too. we laugh into $18 cocktails and get drunk on our invisibility. i push peanut shells in circles not knowing if I’m more embarrassed that he didn’t try to pick me up too, or angry at another entitled straight man.

before all this. i was only three years deep in learning how to keep my queer girl alive. learning how to move. bodies. cities. continents. i tried walking. 900 kilometres across spain before i was ready to breathe at home.

the first time, i ask to kiss her. we are in her sister’s bed. a copy of The Prophet is next to the bedside table light – hard plastic, shaped like rock. i read to her from the section about building houses. the amber walls glow a long night.

in the winter we drive across the country. in a town of desert, a bar of men stare at us as we enter. bodies and volume rise. they boom over us even before they know. we move the car to a ridge twenty kilometres away because it is safer to sleep on the edge of the earth than it is to be near those men and their eyes.

before all this. she asks to come in. it takes her months, but she does. limb by limb. she finds shelter in my peel, pull and thicken. after all the boys and their unwanted hands she finds me cocoon


it’s me who finally suggests the break. she continues combing lice out of my hair in the bath. let’s just try it. for a few months. if we keep going with this open thing we’re gonna crash and burn anyway. she nods heavy and shows me a nit. we eat scrambled eggs at 12am and wear shower caps to bed. the thought that this could be the last time pulses desperately between our thighs. the shower caps don’t stay on.

after all this. four months and we havent seen each other once. the flow of customers eases again. i reopen tinder. scroll distracted. edit my profile and give up. its easier to hang onto the girl who doesnt want me than to swipe into the bodies that do.

i believe the break is a break. i dont hear her sealing up all the windows and walls. she bricks. i shout. she emails

                              powerhouse woman in you, thank you for opening my world
                              so much wider

eyes                              since being apart ive realised
big.                              even though
jump.                              attracted to women
around.                              if you had to plot me on the spectrum
no.                              i am more attracted to men.

i run myself a bath and wrack drool thrash. she will apologise for this erasing. but for now i am dripping

               she can’t mean that.            straight world mean that.
                 one and a half years can’t mean that.
               spectrum mean that. spectrum means picking the edge you’re closer to
                     falling off.

               you spend too long away from your queer girl
                     breath and then wonder why you’re clawing
                              at air. cant figure it out, can you?

                                                                 you too-much-not-enough queer girl.

too much. talking trans kids at your niece’s birth. hiding armpit hair in your grandma’s kitchen. “do you have to turn everything into a gender thing?”

not enough. straight-passing babyface femme. blushing while you pay for that strap-on, wearing the hoops your mama gave you for your birthday.

               i confuse queer
               for crumble
                              for bloat
               surface crackle
                              short circuit

rash creeping over opaque mouth
my lungs, crooked trees burning a hot
                              it doesnt matter. she left you to ember this down
                              alone. straight-edge be knife-ready each time.
                              this gonna shrink you, huh?

puff puff, nah. its time to slick myself.
               out-sun the billow
                              and pulse that deading away


she agrees to see me.

“are you still in love with me?” she asks, with the confidence of someone speaking from the other side. a boy on a skateboard catches up to a girl on roller blades. they lock hands and glide parallel, past us. i unthroat the electricity in my teeth. “i don’t feel nothing.”

i tell her about the fire dream i keep having: us stacking love hot, then her walking into the dark. when i realise she’s not coming back, all i can do is wait for it to ember down. she squeezes my arm in a that’s-poignant-kinda-way and we keep walking. i feel resentment give way to warmth. on elwood beach a dog arches its back and takes a shit.

she asks about my life now. I list the momentums. “im excited for you.” she looks at me with eyes grounded, already nostalgic. I am still a salt tangle trying to melt into her.

i dont tell her about mornings. how i surface, remember & unhatch dissolving. how i get up anyway. how coffee tries its best to churn a smile. how she is still on speed dial.

instead, we hold hands and walk back to st kilda. i stare at the kids staring at us. let them think we are girlfriend & girlfriend. it’s not a lie, just fucked up chronology.

she drives off. and all i can think about is eating a burger from that vegetarian place down the street. and how my body is humming. it pours. it pours on the drive home. i put the kettle on. spring the back door open and smell jasmine. my birthday. i take my washing off the line, head inside.


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