Joy and a Two Rows of Teeth Smile


The face started living under my lids. Joy and a two rows of teeth smile. And I was the little girl with the house mouse in the shoebox under the bed, poking carrots and bread crusts into the holes to keep it alive.  I would use the face in the night times to help me feel complete. I lived alone then.  I liked living alone and I didn’t like it.  Sometimes living alone made me think about how long it might take for my body to be found if I died from choking. Sometimes living alone made me feel like I had gotten too unrestrained because I’d find myself doing things like things I don’t really want to talk about and playing the same songs over and over. Picturing the face put an anchor on me. It became my nightly ritual, a clockwork miracle, I’d get nicely stoned and crawl under the doona and take off my pants. The face would meet me at my little front door.  Black beard darker, longer. Hair different, all the beads and shells gone, hippy boy a man with eyes brighter, joy and a two rows of teeth smile. And I wouldn’t say a thing I’d just jump, my wrists brushing his backpack as they met around his neck. Reach for that slug tongue with mine, his beautiful lips like fat happy leeches, my ankles like pythons at the back of his knees. We’d do it right there on the staircase. Our throbbing bodies quivering with instinct and sweat like we were creatures of Charles Darwin and there was nothing else. And then he would not let my eyes go. Stubborn man eyes. Eyes of a man who has found his woman and he’s not scared about that. He’d cup my face in the curve of his hand and say I love you. This is where he’d tell me he always had. I’d be sitting there on top of him, with him still in me as he’d tell me what the outer suburbs of Melbourne were like.

This nightly ritual went on for months. This or something similar. Sometimes we’d fuck in my garden instead of on the stairs for instance. And it would be just like the last time we fucked in real life where my eyes couldn’t keep straight and I was on top and we had to keep quiet. We’d been watching Carl Barron on the tele and he put his hand over my mouth because I was being too loud and was only supposed to make a noise when Carl cracked a good one and the audience laughed. It’s May now and I still feel like a rigor mortised kangaroo corpse at the thought of my skin under someone else’s weird little hands. I don’t even usually like going on top but I felt so free.

I’ve got a problem. I like turning into a goblin. I like turning into a goblin just to see what happens. I don’t know why I do it but I kind of do. I think it’s to find the real man. I think it’s to find Mel Gibson on horseback tearing through the village with a spear.

He had been so beautiful that night. Attentive, getting me scotches. He was sitting there wearing my little house like a glove. He looked so good. I loved the way he dressed. He’d wear footy shorts and have beads and shells in his hair and big feet like he was everything and none of it. Was I really in love with him? It felt there right then it was far to soon like it must have been a sickness in me. Can you say you love when you have only backstroked through the yum?  I was disgusting. I couldn’t help but keep looking at him. I liked him there. I liked him sat just like that with his knees bent and bare feet tucked neat beside him, wearing my house like a glove and I never ever wanted him to leave, so I said it. I said do you think I’m stupid. He looked at me like I was holding a cat by its tail above the furnace. I said you are a tiger, do you think I think I can bring you in from the wild and not have you resent me. He wanted me to stop but I kept going. I kept going until he left.

And a lady came to my house. She had wedgetail eagle feathers and sage. He had been back in the outer suburbs of Melbourne for a while. I had written a poem for him and he’d been mean back, I’d fantasised about him twenty one times. She asked me if it was ok if her dog was in the room. He was a little jack russell. I said it was ok. She went to my heart and she cursed.  She swept the wedgetail feather over my heart, I felt the wind it made, I smelt the smokey homey tang of sage and asked her if everything was ok. Your heart, your heart, your heart, your heart! She said. And I just go, I know.


Heart Sage

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I am sat in front of where the coffee table used to be. The carpet is blue, quite blue, Bic lighter blue, electric. The carpet is the colour of the place in the middle of the flame and I never realised how just how blue it was until the coffee table was no longer there.

I  used to sit right here a lot. In the nighttimes the lamps would glow up the timber walls showing up the marks in the wood, the blue tac, the staples, dints from the old tenants. Sometimes the windows would be open, the door out to the balcony where the forest stood still and silhouetted, the hushed birds and bats and possums and koalas keeping quiet while they knew they were being watched. In winter it’d be a different story. Everything would be closed up and cosy, sometimes a fire would glimmer red and the logs would crack in between songs. And he would be there. His eyes warm and little and mellow. Little slits that I’d seep right into like gaps under the door and I was the morning light.

Red wine rings would mark up the coffee table like the olympics logo, lids and candle holders would be piled high with my dainty little white butts. How I would wish to squeeze all the pleasure out of these nights.  Indulge like a polar bear not knowing when its next feed was coming because seeing him was kinda like that. I’d wring these nights out like a chamois and slurp it up. All the red wine, all the champion ruby I could have until I found that place, the place where I didn’t fear anymore. That place sounded just like Radiohead’s Reckoner you better believe,  just pure purr, warm golden bliss. He would be reclined over  the cushions and he’d be watching me.  I’d fall back into the cushions too and he’d watch me do that. Those eyes of his, deep dark right in the middle, they were always watching me, observing, like I was wonderful no matter what I did.  I’d elongate profound sentences about nothing, my thoughts and promises to life. I knew we were both  really stoned but there was still a part of me that expected he’d zone away while I spoke just because everyone else did that. But he did not. He’d drink from the styrofoam cup that he held at his end, the one that was attached to string between us, his and mine, the telephones you’d make as kids, he’d drink from it the whole time. And I’d ask him if he thought I talked too much. He’d just reply no. He’d say he loved the way I spoke and the way I spoke it.

I had loved him in the way you almost can’t breathe, it felt like some of my breath I was breathing was given away to him. And he’d just be sitting there stealing away my breath like it was nothing, feeding me with his watching, his steady watching, sitting there on those cushions stealing my breath. He’d bleed his soul through his eyes when he looked at me, like all his thoughts and outgoing vibrations were taken, snagged upon me. Like time was encompassed and entangled in time. Like I was his keeper and he was too powerless to even wriggle, to even fight, like he was the creature and I was the anemone. And it was the strangest thing what would happen, because before him the clouds would always come. Roll over, roll over me, clouding me, blurring me into a ghost, blurring, destroying, frightening him. Deep and dark these clouds would be and I’d watch them come over. They were heavy with charcoal colour but empty within. Just frustrated particles of water and air that didn’t know how to make sense of each other and he sure didn’t know how to make sense of them. He let the clouds win eventually and left me for a big ugly city.

There was a time I couldn’t get enough of him. When he’d leave in the mornings smelling of tea tree, down that tiny staircase of mine and the door would bang behind him and make the whole house rattle like my longing heart in it’s ribcage. I’d be left in that bed and sometimes I’d just lay there like that for a good while not wanting to disturb the scent where he’d lay.  I  think of him now only sometimes, in that big city, I just see an ant among the ants and I can’t really believe I really ever once  believed him to be anything else. What is deep attraction other than a temporary madness? A drunkenness to sober up from.