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

 

the cut flowers you buy at the supermarket

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

to sleep.