i dont mind ureia breathing down my throat showing me how not to b austere
in the season of the feijoa which makes our fish happy filling the gills of the wings of a snapper
a mere morsel for ureia she’s already closed the door on us salt-sea sultans hanging bout the wharf
(but we jus trying our luck at the edge of the earth)
o hollow tongue slapping the shore line into shape i can see the body massage the sand
into plate glass the heat of friction the capitulation to the end of something
be it nuclear or magnetic we doing bombs off the jetty thinking it could all go up in foam
because all summer it swelters with a swagger. Girls take to catwalking around
in 12 dollar warehouse bikinis and the boys cover their hardons
with tribal-printed surfboards because that's all we really are
a Popsicle population of practicing porn stars all frujus
and wild raspberries in the mouths of equally wild animals
you wish you could be lemon blonde
like your cousin. She sits in the sun
squeezing juice out of her ponytail and turns sour
when her boyfriend’s late picking her up.
His car is white and glows in the dark
outside your bedroom window when
you sneak out to sneak around with them
at the abandoned boarding school on the hill,
but the closest you get to a ghost
is the dead hedgehog in the fountain
and your hair is turning green from chlorine
years later, your cousin marries
that white car boy. At the wedding
your hair is the bright colour of oceans, but
everyone looks better than you—even
the ghosts of almost-wives you find
haunting the rose garden. They follow you
everywhere & help fold your food
into the corners of napkins & dance
with you when everyone is gone. You
cry because you’ve never been in love— possibly
you’re a little too drunk, swaying in a pink dress,
with a mind awash with feeling
& a body like an empty glass vase
wither within days, and drop petals
grey & sickly onto the dining table.
none of us have space to grow our own,
which is why you keep buying them, & wear
dresses in bright green & blush pink
to remind yourself what living things look like.
you smother the flowers with newspaper
& hide them under rotting vegetables
in the communal compost, trying to
give the dead thing back to itself. after
the wedding you could crawl into that
hot mass & close your eyes—let
your body decay among the pumpkin flesh
and half-bitten plums, until the worms
turn you back into earth
You touch the silt beneath the narrow islands where you were born.
What will they find when they come back for what’s left?
A white melamine rice-scooping spoon with lilac flowers on the handle.
Three pairs of thin chopsticks made out of bone with goldfish,
reeds and a red moon engraved on the ends where you hold them
and the words “百年好合”: may you live a long and happy life together.
A wide enamel bowl, the chipped rim spray-painted blue,
with a red and yellow peony stencilled in the bottom.
Four pairs of shoes scattered around what was once a door.
Traces of a vegetable garden next to traces of coconut palms.
A valley of ash where the inlet used to be.
Run your hands through the silt;
bury your face in it. Taste the silt;
these are the bones of your ancestors.
Black mouth from the ash;
make your teeth look whiter.
Dirty nails and no water to wash them.
Suck the dirt from your nails;
eat the ghosts from your past;
hold them to your chest and sing them