I emerge from the rainforest sweating,
resplendent and overflowing with new growth
kicking ass and being at one with the foliage
later, in the shower, I marvel at the details
that can throw you back and clot your throat
staring into the pouring ‘posh’ shower head
water spilling over my face
choking me back to a past life,
with me just a gorgeous shell
filled with sex and washing powder
my hand on the burner in our kitchen
it didn’t do anything
all magnets and chrome
no actual fire
no real burn
just electricity and science to cook with
I am burning through the undergrowth
surefooted and free
cicadas screaming into my ears
you will never know how far
I can hike without stopping
or how much I love the smell of decaying leaves
and wet dirt or how I
roll a swag, pitch a tent, boil a billy
remember how to put a fire out as well as start it
I was face to face with a dingo alone at ten
today it was just a goanna
but I still looked at it with wonder
childlike and brave and the best part of me
not immature or squashable
but real raw wonder
feet crunching into earth
today in converse and turquoise tee
wearing earrings in case the Rosellas see
but still that kid in cargos and hiking boots
who never cut her hair or understood makeup
you will never know what I am capable of
where I have mapped this country
where I have yet to go
because you never asked
just slapped the backs of my knees
to see if I would flinch
Howard and Moll, after seventeen years of wedded indifference
Finally took to the courts for a formal divorce
Her, citing decades of thundering snores
That were never quite rhythmic enough to be sweet,
And his half finished-sentences, his mumbling, his sniffing,
His pottering aimlessly while she was in the kitchen,
His interest in rugby, his mistrust of maps,
And his blatant refusal to never, not once, leave the toilet seat down.
For his part, he listed her voice when she nagged
Which was often, especially regarding the lawn,
Her inability to walk in an approximately straight line,
And above all things, he stated,
Her cruel determination to serve wet brussel sprouts
Which she knew he hated above all things on earth.
The magistrate paused for dramatic effect
And stated that under new federal legislation,
All bickering couples were required to undergo scientific evaluation
Microscopic imaging, which would demonstrate the roots of their woes.
Each of them breathed a sigh of relief
For the impending release of the cold, hard facts
The inarguable machine-calculated reasoning
Behind their marital follies in choosing each other.
The next week, they shucked themselves of all but their skin
And stood side by side in papery gowns
Being careful not to touch, for fear of contaminating the data.
Men in masks strapped them in to fearsome scanners
Buzzing and humming and whispering light
And rolled in twin screens, each projecting the results
Of the opposite person.
And they watched.
As cameras flashed over their goose-pimpled flesh
And zoomed exponentially closer on in.
As the pores on Howard’s arms came into magnification
Moll smirked to see their uneven shape
Vomiting out hairs which looked flaky and rough
Thought, he’s just not quite right, even down to his skin.
And Howard, for his part, winced to see, vast and blue,
The varicose veins that Moll kept in her calves
Which pulsated vulgarly, slick and obscene
He breathed his relief that his doubts had been real.
As the couple each settled into their nest of certainty,
They awaited the return of the doctors, to confirm
With charts and paperwork, the success of the test.
But the cameras kept whirring, and zoomed further in
So that their skin rose like river beds, all cracked
And further still, as their cells came into focus
Wobbling and chattering like talkative jelly
And then further, they became little dots
Passing dots between dots without number or name
Moll thought with alarm of indigenous art
And Howard in an flash, understood Mister Seurat.
And still further, relentlessly the cameras pressed on
Through the busy crusading of molecules and chemistry
Until finally, they slowed, and shuddered to a stop
And the whirring machines clunked to silence
And Howard and Moll saw each of their screens
Focussed perfectly on what they remembered from school
As an atom. A huddle of specks indicated a nucleus
And now and then, a tiny spark fluttered by
(An electron, they dragged from the vaults of their learning)
But most of all, what they saw was nothing.
Space, and dark, and quiet, and emptiness
Each had never seen anything quite as empty as that screen
And staring as deep as they could into each other
They realised they were each mostly space.
And all the while, as the scientists unbuckled them
And led them to their clothing
And returned their shoes
And signed them out
And waved them home
They were silent. Hardly breathing. Hardly moving in bodies
Which, though packed to the brim with guts and with gore
Were primarily made up of nothing at all.
Howard unlocked the car
Moll climbed in beside
And they drove without speaking
To the top of a hill
And there, under the twinkling of the ancient old stars
They fucked on the bonnet
With desperate love
To each make the other
A little more whole.