Your displeasure encircled,
like descending mesh, that first occasion
we called a conversation.
Was I the blanched insect
and you the hunter,
with your barbed question-net?
The gendered metaphor
flutters weakly, but does not die
No feminist assertion
swoops down to devour it.
This is new territory.
There is no theory that can
rival this, me splintering
under your gaze
like last century’s woman
As if you had pinched the thorax
of a butterfly,
fastened me to a board
with each quick piercing
of disapproving thoughts,
like an entomologist’s
single-minded enamel pins
Pins in a woman’s dress,
pins in her hair,
pins, pins, to fix, to fix her –
with a needle and thread
she sits, sewing her silence,
an inheritance passed on
I hold her in contempt, but here I am
weaving quietude and guilt
while you tell me how you feel.
Still, it seems to me
your mouth is a wound
I want to stitch up
Your eyes, once seamless,
now full of gashes
that refuse my useless craft
I wasn’t trying to convince you.
I just needed you to know
how it felt to cradle this heavy speck,
the frightening consequences
of blood and semen.
To hear of hormones,
caressing me like warm heroin
or the voice of a hypnotist
I couldn’t describe it. I was slipping
from your downturned mouth,
like a stitch from a knitting needle
now futile and crooked.
I told you later that I would do it.
“Fuck the world” I said,
and we fucked,
and I pulled up the blanket
so you wouldn’t see the question mark
hovering like paused scissors
over my terrible belly
The safety pin inside,
coming loose, lanced me.
And guilt formed, like a clot.
Guilt grew at a faster pace.
I cowered before guilt,
and its threat of emptiness
that gaped at me
like a hole in my stocking,
Grief-struck, I messaged you.
I don’t know what to do, I said.
You explained, over text,
the procedure to me,
gleaned from a doctor friend:
“The first pill detaches the embryo
from the uterus.
The second pill flushes it out.”
As if it needed explaining.
As if I had not thought about
running away with
the possibilities in my flesh.
As if I had not scrolled through
countless internet pages,
every medical point a pricking,
drawing blood in advance
When you sent me that text,
matter-of fact, cold, like a needle
through my frayed cloth-mind,
did you feel any sadness,
for the lump that was us, nascent,
for the girl who stroked your hair?
And so I bled, and bled,
and released the tiny burden.
You were sad, you did say,
after I lay in a hospital bed
empty of the loaded clot,
you were sad because of how I felt.
I know men don’t feel
the body’s cushioning response,
its demands, but you demanded too
All feminist affirmations
bounced off the glass or lightly stuck
and slid away.
No rally sign or slogan badge tells us this.
You’re either for, or against –
there is no messy space in between.
No one explains, and I tried to.
But when you explained
the procedure to me,
so calmly over text,
you dropped my heart, like a rag,
in a pool of dirty water.
I didn’t know
you were carrying it.
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 93: PEACHSUBMIT to L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIICOMING SOON with 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
- Introduction to Zenobia Frost’s After the Demolition
- Phillip Hall Reviews Robert Harris’s The Gang of One: Selected Poems
- Adam Ford Reviews Rae White’s Milk Teeth and Anders Villani’s Aril Wire
- Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Elif Sezen’s A little book of unspoken history
- Introduction to Charmaine Papertalk Green’s Nganajungu Yagu
- Brigid Magner Reviews Michele Leggott’s Vanishing Points and Elizabeth Smither’s Night Horse
- Jack Kelly Reviews Liam Ferney’s Hot Take
- Submission to Cordite 93: PEACH
- Introduction to Cordite 91: MONSTER
- Poetry, Whatsoever: Blake, Blau DuPlessis, and an Expansive Definition of the Poem
- On Being Sanguine: Two Years of Panic and a Response to Terror in Christchurch
- A Deaf Rough Trade: Defending Poetry to ‘regular people’
- 12 Panels by Chris Gooch
- 5 Translated Yosuke Tanaka Poems
- A Buzz in the Retina: On Translating Luljeta Lleshanaku
- ‘That is some crafty bite’: Trisha Pender Interviews Melinda Bufton
- ‘You’re never disembodied from the action’: Dylan Frusher Interviews Judith Beveridge
- Excerpts from Neon Daze
- Chorography and Toute-eau in the Waters of Lower Murray Country
- 6 Poems from Robin M Eames
- Aussi / Or: Un Coup de dés and Mistranslation in the Antipodes
- Every other Friday
- I Still Love Without My Head
- Heath Ledger’s Joker
- Only fair