this ghost song of my own —Lisa Sewell Cancer now a song sung low: melody’s long exhale the melismatic languor of high summer’s relentless shimmer. The brightest mornings, yes, still remember the coldest burn of your mid- winter hopes. Diagnosis reaches us through air-conditioning —followed quick by dye injection, by lidocaine, by the carefully controlled somnolence of anaesthesia. (Song sung low, this lullaby a cocktail of morphine and the lesser pain meds, the slather of lotions and the photographic record of your breast’s diminishing blueness.) One week later, when the nurse gives her authoritative nod it cuts through heat, through […]
If the machine that could reverse age were newly minted in the shops would she want to slide back to being a teenager? ideal if the years dropped off like fruit but only if you could retain knowledge of how you planted the tree and the misshapen fell with the edibles as her friend snored at the dinner table she thought of time in a swivel chair making managerial demands some alluded obsessively to their age as if they found it a pimple-free excuse others botoxed simulated the nubile she tried to walk the present with poise flicking back her […]
I think about you, mother, at my age, on this day that you’re suddenly twice that— one blue-eyed child already banging on your saucepan lids, another curled inside you, your worry still abstraction. In the photos, at my age, (now you are exactly twice that) your curls catch the light behind you and you stand beside the bare brick of your house, the windows still uncurtained. You’ve told me that you dream, sometimes of your children drowning, that most painful of deaths: a floundering across all of these years. I grow tomatoes in an old crate and […]
Translators’ Note Nakamura Sachiko (b.1963) grew up in Ōtunato-city in the Iwate prefecture in Tohoku, Japan, which became one of the most severely damaged areas by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Born into a landlord family who had lived there for hundreds of years, she has never left her home town. This poem is based on her experiences after the tsunami. The poetic style she has chosen, including the mixture of the prose and linages, past and present, monologues, conversations, dialogues, and signs around the town, represents the confusion of the people’s state of mind as well as the […]
One sulphurous puff, then the white stick is flicked spinning in a flare of sparks, red globes throbbing down the harbour channel. One vulnerable hand lifted, its sallow disclosure pallid as the history of human error pasted on placards, where arc-lights scatter a brittle confetti: the florilegium of choice. These itinerants marred by the stages of grieving gather by handfuls at the terminus, swell into masses. Some still bear marks of disfigurement like mortal wounds, gashes insecurely bound, heaped in the exhaustion of travel. Most are older than usual, in loosely drooping camisoles, or subsiding gowns. A woman offers a […]
Yes, that’s a blue-banded bee making a burrow in the knuckle of yellow sand that’s been there almost a decade, left over from house-building, set as rock. This native bee is a solitary, but building with an openness to other mothers-to-be as neighbours—birthing rooms and cribs, best address tenements, apartment block: communal yet separate, a socialist utopia? Quick in, quick out, to carve comfort or security. And out and about, its feeding zone—one in which pockets of pollen are held back, kept in stock, selectively available to those who can unlock their puzzle […]
This is a mausoleum of the sleeping. On the plump quilt the cat is a stole, flatter than might be expected. Silence barely fills out its fur. Bones are most unlikely. If dreams haunt the faint rise of its downy head, time does not know about them. The room is still as dust, that shroud of skin cells and micrometeorites secreted on the boards under the bed. Each piece of furniture pretends to stasis. Yet the earth is turning, yearning for the explosions of the sun. Very soon history will return here for everyone. There is nothing that can be […]
1. Spring pries into your affairs like a witness going through the paperwork of silence. There is a moment when all is worth it when memory of the ephemeral surpasses the resolution to outlive it. Spring delves into the mystery of one long promise of plague: gnats, rabbits, advertising jingles. When the spasm of blossom peers into the world from the bract there we shall be in ignorance of everything but our allergies. We’ll devote attention to the subjective beauty of pollen, when each tendril unfurls to reveal a lost love that never dies continuing between the fire and the […]
The dead (a simple fact) come close to me at night. They manage houses they never lived in, polish spoons, lay tables, summon a lazy sun-filled river to lie there for hours, barely flowing through my head. They are my flesh. I trust their presence as I trust the bougainvillea outside my window at midnight is still red. Round and round the moon moves like plants do in their sleep. The living, breathing as if their breath was kidnapped from the sky and the dead, breathing it into them. I can hear a tree splitting from a storm that took […]
I envy my neighbour’s bigger ration,
but he won’t play in this way.
He stays indoors. I invite him
to watch. His no is final.
He is loyal to his house
and paints his stairs.
all on their own achieve
Hung from a feather,
a soft noose.
It’s never too late
to cut me down.
Midwinter—rainwater, and the quick running creek; how we trudged down the hill towards it. Sunlight falls through jarrah, gilding the gravel track, and glints off the gully’s eddying fjord. Some way off, upstream, there’s a bridge across the creek; a log we’d balance on, all but airborne. Gazing into the silt-rich stream as far as light allowed, trembling depths turned mirror, where the moon might appear in any cloudy noon, a drifting ghost, or petal; poetry. Another metamorphosis in memory— the creek, speaking its tongues into my sleep. Tannin, cold water’s fall and flood-rushing […]