You lay claim to the soft geography of my flesh.
A cartographer’s fingers trace the undulations and ridges,
seeking the salty inland lake.
This is no inert body of mud and clay;
the willing country of my desire rises to meet
You have colonized me
but the fold and wrinkle of your skin carries away
you are so laden with souvenirs that return is always inevitable.
I hope your map is never complete;
territory you’ve conquered a thousand ways and discovered
clamours to be described
but only to be revised, revisited, reimagined
as a brand new thing.
This state of love evolves and pulses
even over unshifting rock so that it can be perfectly known
only for the beat between breaths.
I will inhabit your love like a dress
snug against the curve of my breast
warm across my buttocks
close enough to my hips to draw the eye.
To see me is to know
I am yours
enveloped in the fabric we have woven
here around us.
And I will think of you, naked,
adorned and claimed by my blood and breath
waiting to begin anew
our love-making, our life-making.
You will stitch your name into me
and I will wear you well.
One winter at school we donned boots and hats,
mostly the kind nanna knitted or else cheap and fraying from a chain store.
They took us hunting for fungi,
eyes panning the ground,
except for the boys skylarking in the back.
I was used to a downward posture and
my gaze found all the kinds we’d described and drawn:
flat toadstools bursting with dusty spores ready to shake onto paper,
mawkish pink caps that turned to sludge underfoot,
dry puffballs that burst, reminiscent of a toad’s throat distended in call
and hinting at an etymology more anatomical than folkloric.
There were the little white buds, pressing forth like tiny resolute phalluses,
the kind I would see in my mind’s eye when I read Plath at fifteen.
I was the first to find the rainbow fungi,
flaps of otherworldly colours growing from damp tree stumps as if oozing life out of rot.
I wanted to draw these but the skylarking boys had other ideas,
taking their boots to the flesh until it was pungent shards in the grass.
The beauty of decay is too much uneasiness.
After the field trip I looked everywhere for fungus
just to see this evidence that organisms take root in each other.
My father used to warn me not to inhale spores lest they set seed in my lungs.
The winter that he died I found a perfect toadstool as long as my thumb
growing from the doorframe in my bathroom
and spent a cold hour looking at it before scrubbing it away and driving to work.
It returned overnight, and every night, until I scorched the wood with Exit Mould.
I try not to wonder if the mushrooms in the cemetery
are the edible kind.
I find your lost earring on the floor and resist the urge to hold it under my tongue like contraband. At night I cling to the pillow you slept on and push my face into sheets still carrying the scent of our love-making. My kitchen smells like coffee and your absence; the fridge reproaches me with saved morsels of your cooking. There is nothing of you that fades. I can still taste you.
I would write a love poem
but touching words instead of your skin seems foolhardy.
Kisses cannot be a better fate than wisdom
where there is nothing wiser than love.
The work of knowing you is my enlightenment.
Light me up.
We taste sweetness and spice on our tongues like baklava.
Crumbs lingering on our skin,
the scent of honey leading us back to ourselves.
I feed off the bloom of you.
love gives your soul back to your body
so you float taut and zinging
ready to burst
I was built to hold back love
but this is no dam wall to trust.
They say drowning is peace
if you surrender.
Anchor me down
when the pleasure rises
so I don’t take flight with the fishes.
call it the love particle
put prayer books and physics texts side by side on the shelf
fall asleep under the same moon
wake with protons on our fingertips yearning to only connect
You ground me to particles
sifting for the boson
I never felt a bang