A Gradual Eden
After the lava had cooled,
Sure, you and I still talked all night,
I had to learn the basics:
Nothing grew on the hard-baked
When the strawberries were gone
Once, longing for old comforts, you peeked
Watering didn’t help much.
One day we saw the rock was dusted
Symphony of Skin
i. Tuning up
They are there if you listen.
ii. Skin music
And you can never explain it in physical terms—
Afterwards, they lie curled,
Fortune reshuffled, reshuffled
(The tarot anagrams)
Take off your rings. They are clues to your story.
I’m getting a strong signal. You will survive an avalanche. When it comes, you’ll be prepared. Keep your hand near your face to clear an air space. Many suffocate. Make sure you know which way is up. This is the easy part: dribble the spit out from your mouth and see which way it runs. Now, dig, dig in the opposite direction.
I see something else coming through here: you’ll give him a kidney. (He is dying, you see, in the physical sense). Worst-case scenario, temperance—you’ll have to cut back on the Sancerre. Best, a scar and an empty comma on one side of your mid-spine. Still, each cluster a small lung, breathing life into the glass husk of him until he pinks up. Then he’ll ask for the other, the fool…
He’ll ask you which one you are—in the show, I mean: Hank’s wife or Walt’s; the pretty, bored house-bound mum with the new baby, who knew about the drugs, or the Type-A kleptomaniac sister. Your love will die but you cannot live with another monkey on your back. Ho! Mind you heed my 4warning. Honour is nothing. They stole your fucking poem. Don’t sign anything.
I see a case of your best Sancerre, coming from cluster to glass. Is your wife a fool? you’ll ask him, mid-fuck. And the other scenario? An empty life. You’ll have to give him a pink lung, one side dying. He’ll cut up your back, scar your spine in the husk sense. Not physical (comma) worse—something else you’ll see through.
Another strong signal from you: this is Space. In which direction is Survive? Be prepared to dig when the air runs out. Will you know which way? I’m getting an avalanche of drivel: Dig, the opposite of Easy. Face it; you know your part will suffocate many, but each kid’s still breathing. See the way your spit comes up clear now? Keep your hand near your mouth.
A warning sign: At 4 am your mind’s a monkey house. You cannot live with your sister, the kleptomaniac honey, who stole the show. She’ll waltz in here and type you a poem or love you back. Keep mum! Don’t heed anything the pretty ask. They are bound to be mean, bored with the new drugs, which, on my honour, I knew nothing about. The baby will die in this one. Hanky?
III. The Fool
See the way your Mum keeps coming up? She’s a pretty mean type. She’ll suffocate you, cut off your breathing with a hank of judgement you could sense. Heed your kid sister, the midwife, who’s bound to love you. Your baby digs you, honey. He’ll waltz you back to the monkey show, give you space to spit. You’ll ask him to dribble Sancerre into your mouth until your mind clears. (No temperance here).
Another warning sign: your honour is the kleptomaniac that stole the pink from your face. Will the strong drugs put a comma in your near-dying? In this scenario, you survive. Many know your hand. The husk of a lung is bored from your back, a scar on your spine. Keep it in a glass in case the air runs out.
I’m getting a signal. Something else coming through I knew nothing about: you live in a new house, one you cannot empty of poems. You give each other the best life, a physical side. But don’t ask of him. The worst part… Not prepared for anything, you see. Up this way. Easy! Then, cluster-fuck from the opposite direction… 4 die in an avalanche. They are still now.
On the Rocks
There is a kind of love called flotsam. When twisted winds have paused for breath
There is a kind of love called jetsam. When the hold is timber-splintered
There is a kind of love called lagan. When waves have swallowed the last yellow
And there is a kind of love called derelict. When spite has ripped the spinnakers
Five Creatures Under Every Mother’s Skin
“A Gradual Eden” and other poems are © Audrey Molloy
Symphony of Skin, first published in Meanjin Volume 76, ed. Bronwyn Lea