You stack his limbs, like kindling, on an eggshell mattress
study his mottled skin. Yellow and bruised
as though bitten by late blight. Hanging
each breath’s a little dust-cloud
settles into sediment, raining
spittle flecks on starchy sheets. You peel them back
and find him buried underneath —
a lumpy tuber,
skin full of solanine,
hidden from the sun too long, until even bone and gristle’s
gone soft, spine folding back
into a fetal form: waning
crescent moon, a sickle,
something perennial, nested,
wrinkling, and almost ready to rot.
He lays in the darkness,
you stand under pearl-light, holding
his marble palms, the colour of a storm cloud. Asking them
do these fingers miss burrowing,
like earthworms, in the dirt?
do they remember pressing palm-to-palm,
do they remember how to pinch,
ripe cherries, from spring-green bows?
were they ever painted,
rose-red1, in protest?
or were they already tawny and congealed?
You wash his limbs and bruises,
his hypha, every fold,
nail bed, axilla, callous, bristles, lenticels,
his flaccid penis, anus, navel. Tenderly,
thinking of the Persian word for potato —
You are a candle burning
in the oppressive arms of a man2
perfectly imperfect, baring fuzzy flesh,
caesarean scar, your eyes
in the language of the birds,
even your resistance is poetry
you cut your hair
tie it around a wax-waist,
your flame burns
brighter from a shorter wick
and this man becomes your shadow.
Tying stone-things to your lily-white feet
to walk upon roiling waters.
Sticking blood-things over the black-eyed CCTV beast
Humbaba, hah hah hah!
he’s blinded in his own cedar forest.
Burning fire-things to purify this city,
white-ash and lime mortar
veiling lid and temple.
You bury the soft bones of your lover, oppressor,
brother, your father and your son;
and from the grave of a potato
new life grows.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith 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: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith 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