He is still the stillest hand, sure
that all terrors are palm-sized,
can be cupped against the chest
like a chick
to slow its tapping heart.
He eats the pale heart
of a lettuce, grates unpeeled
carrots into stew, chews
stalks, sucks flowers,
pronounces all vowels the same.
Marks his page
with odd leaves. Leaves
marks on screens.
The conch-curl of his right hand,
one steel-pinned finger
soldered in a rough crescent.
He rolls messy cigarettes and lets
the smell sprawl over him.
A grip that catches
at cock, cat, toe, book, smoke,
tumbler of scotch
on the rocks. Broke the backbone
of Nietzsche’s Complete Works,
spattered it with notes
and now that sour German face
erodes beside his bed.
He speaks me to sleep.
The map-blue sound of his voice lapping
in the phone’s clear cup.
Says, this will make you happy,
and it does.
Ella Jeffery’s first poetry collection, Dead Bolt, won the Puncher & Wattmann Prize for a First Book of Poetry. She holds a PhD from Queensland University of Technology. ellajeffery.com