On Being Here When you Ought to be There
When bent under absent weight you tend to wander, walking on the telephone, wise balancing act, mind on a window glossed fog, with bulbous groaning ache for an owed not owned place, sore throat in the morning, boredom, the loss of it.
4 O’Clock Chai, Jakarta Time
On the phone, she says my grandfather Sits in front of the TV all day, Sweater vest over moon-blue pyjamas in tropical weather. His yearnings are simpler now. Quieter. He only ever asks for the remote He can’t reach. Or his slippers. She says the window is closed but he’s cold anyway. Always cold. She worries it might be something But she doesn’t know what. I can hear her rustling inside the kitchen. Something is missing. She can’t find the right strainer. The one with the small enough holes. Dimana ya?* I don’t know. Me, Here, but only for a second. With her now but my here is untruthful. Far From hers. His. My here, their There. She’s found it. She says it’s like A maze in this house. Nothing is ever where You leave it. How was your day? The milk is boiling. She’s straining the tea leaves now. I can almost taste the bubbles. The way they cling to the lip of the hot Steel glass on top of the cold white tray. She says I love you. I say it back. She says she should go now. I say Okay. I’m going to bed soon. I picture the loaf of him, asleep on the sofa. She’ll wake him quietly. Walk him to the dining table, An invisible weight holding him back The same way you’d wade through water. I don’t remember the details of it but she told me once That he took me swimming when I was little. She said he held me so gently. I hang up. The bread I had for dinner was so soft, He probably could’ve chewed it on its own. The rest of it Will be too hard tomorrow. There are certain things time Should hold still for. The love of the next thing Is so casually cruel.
* dimana ya (Indonesian): where is it?
amidst the flowers I tell the hours
the sunrise lies in the far distance on a fifty-yard string, cola colour all coming off it in the sticky morning like a womb. onward now and see the red- light blight, specious plight and it’s all hollow and it’s all bright, spinning discs buoyed but the suns not up yet. on the trenchant trudge. cosmos cluster in tea-rooms, a million million hemispheres collide and slide, breath pours from one to the other. beneath festoon lights like blurry rain on swaying partygoers just a kiss away, soon colliding all clattering going on. they’re still just a gaggle of schoolkids, punch line comes and they go away blossoming. they are hazel-haired and slogan-shirted, arms interlinked and future-skirted, by more than spotify’s most intimate algorithm seen. we think it a testament to telescopes that can put us on the moon while we stand here, draw the eye to the moment. Do not go on but if you must go loudly laughing through empty dreams: cherry-cheeked daguerreotypes adorn halls nobody sees while their imp progeny issue warrants for notice, post-script dribble on a postage stamp. we ordered years dialling the sun but now its ancient knick-knack, the secret in secret pockets on secret notes, inside lips, it goes on and on and in that order on.
whilst eating weetabix at noon
text thread a deceit love you darling tick box brain netting flammable to the prickling of mother father guilt slurps of spaghetti hoop letters forge the eye spy out the car window memory with wax closest thing to salt spray i got given in that blizzard they call a god wrapped gift ginger to gastric behind a yellow line shouts the finger gagging goose bump to the sound of a mannikin mantra like love you darling
Tara Xianfu Clatterbuck
It is hard to believe my mother when she says things are changing. Home as it sits on my windowsill is a permanent golden hour. The harbor, a shade of pool water blue, the sun so bright it splits the sea as it sinks, glitter flurried around skyscrapers like snowfall. Forever that way. She talks about a photograph in the study, remember? of her and dad and the city, twenty years before me, by the seaside soaking up sun. In that same spot they’re burrowing into the harbor. The land’s all new. She sends a picture of the water looking like coke gone flat, the new earth even flatter. People need houses, ma. I know, I know. Before I tell her that things are always changing, she says I speak with my eyes shut. Springtime bauhinia’s are gasping in the cold, 5pm and the city is moon sunk. A shaken piece of a plastic by the window’s ledge glitter more like ash they've halved the delta with fifty-five kilometers of concrete.