By Gemma White
Across the pond our letters flew yours on fluoro yellow, lined, margined fool scrap mine on cartoon cat-themed writing paper that I’d somehow kept since I was 12. We’d used all methods of correspondence. Chatting over the net, email and recently that surreal international phone call so unexpected after 5 years. I was so nervous all I could talk about was changing my home phone provider there was so much I could have said that I couldn’t even start and now the final written notice: I’m asking that we stay out of contact it’s not fair to her or anyone I hope you understand.
Today You Send Your Messages from a Sound Proofed Room
After Martin Harrison
The silence completes you. Your voice is not the only answer To the equation in question – But you don’t care. It is a gratifying, Satisfying kind of omission – The kind that lets you stay Sleeping in a dark room. (But I can still see you).
Your Women Are Vampires
For Edvard Munch
Starving the dominance from your fragile masculinity sunlight dripping into seas from menstrual expanses of sky wrapped around figures like a blanket, like a noose. Love has become gross, the antidote to life; repulsive and pulling you under. No one thinks of this when they fall, until the dark tide catches them. Some of your women, Edvard, know this walking in slender solitude, circling the rising coastline. if they were to turn and seek you, something in their eyes.
You, Me, Meaning
The sky is bright with sun and you have just left me. I waft around the house a ghost with no-one to haunt. It’s not that I don’t have a life or things of my own to do. I do. Just the hours spent with you are so sweet everything else seems like some dull torture. But I know in my bones that a living must be made friends telephoned an independent existence maintained. Otherwise my life will disappear. And with or without you there would still be this central lack of meaning which I try to conquer with date and time, activity, a latte at the café down the road when I’m feeling empty if there’s no-one to talk to I can always write fill white noise with words let feeling take shape and create, create, create.
You Are Not Alone
How can one thing mean so much at one time, so little at another? I remember when everything mattered; life, art, writing, everything. And then one grows up and the illusion is shattered, all is not as it should be. You become a disappointment to yourself and others. I don’t know how to get away from this unsteady truth and I feel I have nothing to offer as a compensatory gesture to the reader. Maybe the only gift I bear is to write what is, for you to know that if you have felt this too, you are not alone.
In the warmth of your arms I had a dream my father, mother and I were all on this pier, I was relocating a fishing line that didn’t belong to me, then a huge wave swept over the pier, totally washed away my mother. My father desperately tried to take my hand but it was hard to grasp the torrent was so strong he could not hold me I woke up crying.
While I Dwell on the Negative and Frustrating
He is hugging me in Dixon’s Recycled Records he is kissing the back of my neck in public. He is buying me apricot roses and Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve on Valentine’s Day. He is taking me to Wattle Park, lying with me on the grass under an Oak tree staring into the summer sky.
I showed you the unflattering photos of us found in the drawer from two years ago? Was that when? Or was it when I had depression and couldn’t get off the couch? Was it when our love life became even more disappointing? Was that when? Or was it when I put on all that weight? When was it? Maybe you can pinpoint it for me. Exactly when you decided you’d had enough? I was never going to give up on you, you know. But you gave up on me first. Oh, how a discarded heart can see.
I used to dream about living out of a suitcase. I thought it would be a relief. Everything else dropping away. And all those schemes for control? Pointless. Against the will of God. I tried and tried, oh the effort, oh the complaints, the overthinking and underdoing, all that reading! But my theories just became knotted. Our insights misleading beacons showing us paths further from love. And that mouth of yours, so wide and its cute way of explaining to me how broken I was. So charming. I wanted so many things, wanted you to stay, for example. But today I travel light. And where you used to stand there is no other man, just me accepting my own hand for this dance. For now, I travel light and with your so many things you couldn’t catch me if you tried.
Things Kept Hidden
I keep my butterflies in a box So they don’t escape into the blue When one beats their soft wings Against the carved sides It sounds like an ant’s handshake. One day I will open the lid to free them A water-climb of orange An optical illusion How could one box hold so many pairs of wings? Look! Look! They haven’t forgotten how to fly!
Gemma has had two poetry books published by Interactive Publications – Furniture is Disappearing and, more recently, Oh My Rapture. She is also grateful to have been published in the following journals, magazines and anthologies: The Age, The Attitude of Cups (MPU), Award Winning Australian Writing (Melbourne Books, 2011), Best Australian Poems (Black Inc., 2013), foam:e, The Green Fuse (Picaro Press), page seventeen, Regime Magazine, Unusual Work, Verity La, Visible Ink and Voiceworks. Contact Gemma via gemmawhite.com.au.