On Post-Victory Day

1 August 2018

Australia said “yes” to marriage equality on 15 Nov, 2017

Dear Father,

Who hides in the kitchen, whose name
I carry like an idle onomatopoeia
for small triumph. But whom I don’t love
enough. On the day of our victory,
let’s ask ourselves: what if it is true
that fathers and daughters were lovers
in their past lives? I still remember
the Stephen King book you gave me
when I was 10. I have learned
horror stories and growing up
have only one thing in common.
Winning is difficult in life, as you sat there
imparting useless information
as if they were lip service to survive.
Tears glistened on your face –
oily, like mine, you confessed:
I never knew what it was like
to have a mother.

The sob so shrill it sunders
our catoptric worlds.
I’ve since found power in the feminine,
such as screaming, and practise
widening my too-round eyes.
I began to see ghosts
on my pillow – the mythical
fiery shadows of Phoenix
leaping from a hot pan
to boiling water reliving a past.
In your hand a Chinese fairy tale
some fiction about flying,
in which there is your name:
Wai Wing (Great Prosperity).
Your masculinity a carapace –
what are you made of
by the way, when ma bought you
feminine sanitary pads
instead of the blue ones
you need as a man?
You only said your knees hurt
on your way to the post office
to vote No. Now I see,
your porcelain heart
has a leaking hole. I, too,
nearly broke my body
just to savour the line
segment in my flattened world.
That’s why I have your nose, your taste
for bitter tea and the will to flaunt
courage with mild hypochondria.
Out there, they have debated love and
how to be a man or a woman
is next. In my dream, the world
changes in no one’s favour.
I’m playing the piano,
my hand pauses in mid air:
a semibreve. Musical notes
twirl dully in the dark, like
embroidery coming undone –
it’s the crossed stitches of Phoenix,
the most unloved childhood emblem
sutured on my pillowcase.

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