His Murder in Four Movements

1 February 2018

movement i

teen bodies on warm bitumen
legs in shorts in the sun drenched quad
she was my wild one, my brightly burning cloud

together driving fast through pine plantations
creeping into the burnt out observatory
gazing through the glassless dome at the stars
a universe that can’t look any closer
burning through our eyes

testing ourselves
against a shifting measure of
something I can’t even guess at

the summer we turned seventeen
heat bent our bike spokes
so we stripped down to swim in the lake weed
that bent around each limb

the summer we turned seventeen
we cut down feral pines
ran a Christmas tree racket out of the church car park
until they caught us out
chased us away running
lake weed streaming from our skin

Natalie Wilson and I
growing up rollies
on the edge of a stormwater drain
underage gigs
pop-punk clothing
black t-shirts, ripped jeans

and late one night
a needle, an ink pot
slight resistance and a stick-poke tattoo
three lines hinting the shape of a triangle

she never said what it meant
just that it reminded her of things


movement ii

news headline
Man found dead had multiple stab wounds

when I saw his photo
my pulse moved to my ears
I knew him without reading his name
they chose a shot from high school

light skin and freckles
thin red hairs

I remember him leaning
over the desk with blunt scissors
scraping back curls of wood
his fists in the mosh pit
black t-shirts, ripped jeans
he was everybody’s last man standing

it’s been a decade
I can’t remember if we said ‘hi’ in all that time

it was evening before I heard
how many times he was stabbed
there’s something visceral about that number, seventeen


movement iii

after the first reports there’s silence
no answers instead
months of waiting, wondering

then Natalie Wilson is arrested

the shock is hard and fast in my chest
my wild one, my brightly burning cloud
the burnt kitchen knife under her house
at first it’s no and then it’s yes

my head goes around and around with it
she’s accused
I think she did it
I have no evidence
she hasn’t been convicted

she’s accused
they found the knife
it couldn’t be her
they’re holding her
she’s going to trial

my memories of her body are
all teenage freshness
all strong tanned legs
lipsmackers
swimming carnivals
impulse deodorant
there’s something visceral about that number, seventeen

I wake into 2am confusion
night images visit me

her body, warm muscles
my memories curled up against her
sleepovers and movie marathons
whispered conversations

her body empathetic to mine
gasping pleasure
lips to cheekbone slip
hands to back bone pressed
hard like winter air

her body with that knife in her hand
four arms, limbs pushed together
the smacking of meat
seventeen times through the chest

and    I’m    fucking    appalled


epilogue: modern ritual

after she’s convicted I don’t visit her
time will not set her free

I run scenarios through my head
late at night like psalms

on Tuesdays I want her punished
embalmed and un-forgiven

by Wednesday all I know is her humanity
I perform sacrament in my mind at these times

I take her body
lay it down upon the kitchen table

wash her arms with warm water
a steaming wet towel

wash her legs, her feet
rub between her toes

brush out her hair
place a silk scarf over her eye sockets

I whisper to her that I trust her
I whisper that I will never forgive her

I lay her humanity down
stark against the kitchen tiles

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