Somebody died three houses down
it was the girl – and this is what I want to say –
she was sixteen and could not breathe
air failed to travel its path and floated
just beyond her reach. She could not speak
and worst of all, no one heard her reaching.
Silence is never silence;
darkness and cloud-cover cushion volume
but they are not impassable.
I sat outside; no wind carried the pain
from the home three houses down
yet I felt death by the handful emptying its load
onto my lap, skin absorbing the heavy loss
it spilling from my chest, my eyes
pouring pictures out, tacit words shooting
from my mind. You were there:
in the op-shop hammock hanging
from the longest branch, you near-winter rapt
to be lazing, drenching in the big sun
and a thin grey jumper, there was a bottle
of water resting in the curve of your hip
the novel you had been talking about
sleeping on your full breast, and then
you were dead –
the loss of your breath
felt in the stillness of the leaves.
Death was not death that day
even in autumn, when sunflowers refused to rise,
but something like silence, like darkness
and cloud-cover. Sometimes I reach
for your phantom body as if I am trying not to fall.
I cannot breathe or speak
and this is what I want to say – I might die
the heart ceding to long stretches between go
and go, the brain too tired to dictate to the heart
and no one, my love, no one would hear my reaching.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 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