Day Three Hundred and Fifty-Five.

21/12/14

Today’s theme: swim.

Izzy circle

izzy

breathing underwater is easier than beating the world number one under 12s chess champion.
holding your head underwater for the first time you see stars

little pricks of silver tied to the depth of you
breathless runners scratching at the light
moving in slow motion

you won’t find out what they mean for years yet

*

Sarah circle

sarah

When I kissed you, you tasted of ocean and ozone
and you pulled me, tidal, towards your hands
Or, when I kissed you, I thought of salt and vinegar chips
and shivered when you ran a finger down into my pubic hair

You swamped me, rushing waves in the crook of my ear
the trickle of water between my legs sinking back into the sand
Or, you crushed me, whispered porn-lifted nonsense with wheezing breath
left a string of drool on my inner thigh which revolted me irrationally

We thundered over the low-lying suburbs, tsunamis with white bared teeth
drowned the half-sleeping bums and the children’s lost rabbits
Or, you snored like a motorbike, two stroke and tedious
while I gritted my teeth and masturbated beside you
holding my breath so you wouldn’t hear

*

Day Three Hundred and Fifty-Four.

20/12/14

Today’s theme: cramp.

Izzy circle

izzy

somewhere under the water there are mermaids

long locks flicking flowing furled in seaweed and pearls
doe-eyed and dumb and sad like Turner’s girls

under the water, armoured tails flash
brute force fish with a flirtatious splash

over the water, calling you to the depths
with songs or breasts or the promise of shared breath

weighted whether with rocks in your head or your heart
the stabbing pain in your shins is the start

somewhere under the water the mermaids use their teeth.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

You’re like a cramp in the hand when I’m writing out shopping lists. Milk, butter, bad quality bread – you – wham! Into my head. Artichokes, broccoli, tomato paste – you! Wham! Lips on my face. Soap, shaving cream, bottles of beer – you – wham! Breath on my ear. Cheese, onions, olive oil spray – you – wham! Inches away.

*

Day Three Hundred and Fifty-Three.

19/12/14

Today’s theme: blunt.

Izzy circle

izzy

I was the only weapon you used against me.

Us, standing and breathing and breathing
in a dark room somewhere or maybe a closet

seven minutes of heaven held taut
One.
eleven finger marks punctuate my spine
Two.
never never never close your eyes when they turn out the light
Three.

three years of crushed glass under my fingernails
of dirt in my eyelashes
throwing stones and cigarette butts to the cobbles
from my gaslit balcony

I was the only weapon you used.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

We were the taste of butter menthol and weed and Doritos corn chips with extra cheese.
We were the forty-minute laughing fits, crying and kissing and giving up before we came.
We were the video games clocked without walkthroughs and the cheat codes we wrote on the crooks of our arms.
We were the nights spent huddled in corners, afraid of the morning and the homework we had.
We were the red eyes and dry mouths and hatred that bled to our parents and sisters and dogs.
We were the silence at the end of a movie, brains churning for words to fill in the space.
We were the solemn goodbyes in the carpark, and the faces obscured by the unending haze.

*

Day Three Hundred and Fifty-Two.

18/12/14

Today’s theme: sky.

Izzy circle

izzy

Redder than she’d ever seen it. Seemed appropriate. Remembering everything that happened after in a kind of slow-motion rewind loop. Dust and hair in her mouth and the gnashing teeth of a million once-domesticated cats at her knees as she runs. And she runs. Wet slashes on her arms and legs, scorching in the wind. They ate the children first. Now she sits in the swell of the buckling, bobbing sea and waits. Watches the shoreline for a break in the fur, a way in past the claws and glaring slit eyes. They preen themselves, lounge and bat timidly at crabs in the rockpools. She remembers a compilation video of cats chasing toys and falling over or crashing into walls and almost laughs. She sneezes. The sky is an electric orange fuzz. Not a bird in sight.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

Seagulls bitch and whine between puddles of beer and this afternoon’s salt-sheared chips. The evening aches over the water, drowning the day with two hands and hot words. A kite bobs overhead, freed from its tether and scouring the sky. From its height, the crowd is lego, short fat limbs and sandy dry hair all shaking their hands and staring at the little wrasse body of the youngest young girl, fish-bloated and paling in the shallows of the waves. The people are wailing and swaying and cursing the air, and with nobody’s direction, they all lift up the girl and hold her to the swift-dying sun like to dry her, like to soak up the water with the leftover heat of the day, like she’s a dish-rag just waiting to stretch out cat-flat in the light and then slip off unharmed into the arms of the twilight. But the sky isn’t looking at the flat hazing earth. It’s all eyes for the starlight and the girl goes unseen.

*

Day Three Hundred and Fifty-One.

17/12/14

Today’s theme: crack.

Izzy circle

izzy

I fractured my wrist about a month ago. I was trying to pick flowers from a paperbark. Paperbarks are really slippery, even on bare feet. Smacked right down onto the bitumen. Big whump. Fucking caned. Used to climb everything when I was a kid. Like a monkey or a Mountain Goat. Bare feet have the best grip. I trust my feet, trust my arms to pull me up. I trust my fingers to find the gaps. This arm doesn’t feel like its mine any more. Always trusted this right hand more, preferenced it. Made no secret of the fact it’s the favourite child. Now it is shrivelling, shrinking away from me under the skin. Hibernating in its fibreglass cave. Something taking up residence in the fracture, big bellows of pain blowing out and the crack of my elbow lifting it to nest against my chest.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

The bone snaps so easy that he tries another. Some half-remembered Christmas dinner bubbles into his brain, and so he makes a wish on the next one. He xylophones his fingers down, presses on two at once and they crackle like a tiny fire. The back of his neck is getting hot. He splays out the wing with both hands and mashes his fist down hard and the noise is like bubble wrap underfoot. His ears are burning. He files away a note for the future: it’s not only people who can scream.

*

Day Three Hundred and Fifty.

16/12/14

Today’s theme: if vaginas had teeth.

Izzy circle

izzy

Brush aside your fears of rejection with new refreshing and whitening VagiDent. Caring for your teeth is as simple as a three-stroke brushing regimen twice daily! How could anyone say no to a sparkling set of snappers like these? Get your shine on and smile with VagiDent.

Toothbrushes sold separately.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

You sit there bleeding and sobbing and I am curled up with my heels to my sitbones breathing through my nose and trying to say sorry.
‘Sorry,’ I say, and reach out a hand to you and you flinch away.
‘It’s not you,’ I say, and you laugh hollowly.
‘It’s not even me,’ I say, and you go silent and cold-eyed.
‘Think of it like a sneeze,’ I say, and you do that sort of sob that sounds like a chuckle but isn’t.
‘Or a cramp’, I say, and you blow out air through your lips like a horse.
‘It hasn’t happened for years,’ I say, and you clutch up your cock in your underwear and slide up the wall.
‘I’ll call you’, I say, and you stagger down the hall and the door slams.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty-Nine.

15/12/14

Today’s theme: old people.

Izzy circle

izzy

we wrapped each other up in our skins
so tight and wild and wrinkle-free

we wrapped each other up so tight
I couldn’t tell who was you and who was me

*

Sarah circle

sarah

‘When I was your age’, he says, just to see their eyes roll. And then he mumbles things to see if they’ll hear him, to see if they’ll ask him to say it again, to see if this will be the time that he’ll tell them the story, the big one, the one from the earth to the stars and back round again.
He mumbles: ‘Space smells like burnt sugar.’
He mumbles: ‘I can breathe underwater.’
He mumbles: ‘The Marianas Trench is deeper than you can imagine.’
Teacups rattle on unwanted saucers. His granddaughter punches her Furby and cries when it doesn’t.
He mumbles: ‘My knees are patched with rubber.’
He mumbles: ‘I kissed the curve of the horizon.’
He mumbles: ‘I swam in the tears of an angel.’
Someone sighs and wipes the dribble from his chin.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty-Eight.

14/12/14

Today’s theme: manatees.

Izzy circle

izzy

we skim the waves like skin on skin on
bellies flipping birds to the sky

and you can tell us
‘you are the pugs of the sea’

we will still float with bloated grace
spin slow and soft, always high-fiving

we will blow you right out of the water

*

Sarah circle

sarah

Underwater where it’s quiet I turn so slowly, like a planet.
Soft-shelled feet flutter by my face so fast I can’t tell whether they’ve cleaned beneath their toenails, but the chlorine should sort it out if they haven’t.
I let out a bubble and it skitters to the surface and explodes in the air, a message from me to the sky.
My eyes have red rims where the goggles dig in.
I high five the pool floor.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty-Seven.

13/12/14

Today’s theme: cooties.

Izzy circle

izzy

French Bulldog or Red Rover or it’s your turn to be Scary Spice
Kisschasy or building the lair or turn around and kick their shins

this is the last place they’ll ever think to find us
(or is it the first?)
the trees seem impermeable from inside
but you can see us from a mile off

melted crayons or Italian to ten or never say ‘fuck’ in front of grown-ups
times tables or brown bag tucker van or Spike sliced his thumb open with a Stanley knife

I never understood why no one wanted to be Scary Spice
I did.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

When the rebellion started, the flag was a pair of old school shorts that someone had abandoned by the magpie tree. Arthur was the one who tied them to a ruler and climbed the jungle gym and started piping orders in a sweet, high falsetto. The kids flocked instinctively, with the innate understanding that anybody higher than you is in charge, and if a kid has managed to get higher than the adults, then, by gosh, you listen to him. Jonathan and Pia had the best handwriting so they were chosen to scribe, which they did frantically on their cursive practice lined paper with the extra dotted line in the middle, so you knew where to start curving the letters.

The orders were:

1. If someone can’t afford the canteen, once a month they are to be allowed to have a free meal up to $4 in value. If necessary, we are willing to compromise on the healthiness of the food options, but if the kid wants a lolly, they get one.

2. The crossing guard is no longer to be a target of abuse by the grade 6 kids, because he’s doing a hard and boring job, and he’s never late, not even once, not even when his wife had the heart attack and instead of going in the ambulance to the hospital, he came to the crossing like always and held his stop sign with a shaking hand and white lips and still smiled at every kid who went past.

3. Boy germs and girl germs are hereby abolished. The only germs to be acknowledged on school grounds are actual germs of which there are billions to choose from, so it’s not like anybody is going to miss those two. Kids are still allowed to call other kids weird, though, because sometimes you just need an outlet, and sometimes it helps to be told that you’re weird so you can think about whether that’s a thing you want to be and why.

Arthur felt that three was enough to start off with, to show everyone that they were serious, but not prone to bureaucratic fiddle-faddling. By now someone had remembered that Kaitlyn was learning the trumpet and she was chosen to play the anthem of the revolution, which because she hadn’t been playing very long was mainly a drawn out wobbly blurt, but they felt that there was room for improvement here, as in all things.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty-Six.

12/12/14

Today’s theme: fire.

Izzy circle

izzy

‘underwhelmed’ was not a word she used lightly
‘disappointed’ even less so.

still she avoided the cracks in the pavement
as if they had any consequence
as if her mother were still able to be broken.

she’d found an arsonist where she was searching for a cure
they looked like the same thing.

she’d popped the bottle carelessly
he’d let it all foam over without tasting a sip
and the premature celebration pissed on all the spark

*

Sarah circle

sarah

the body had been boiled, they said
he looked just like a lobster
probably three hundred degrees in that manhole
so hot the police couldn’t get him out
nor the sewerage guys
someone made a joke about salamanders and nobody smiled
and the someone felt ashamed and slunk away again
the snow melted up in the steam from the pavement
condensed on the faces of the silent observers
holding hands and feeling sick and swearing off seafood
the woman doing the autopsy said that his insides were cooked
and his skin just rolled off sickly when she stroked it
and he lay there, steaming and smelling faintly of hot dogs
which in new york is kind of an unavoidable smell
and when the newspapers asked her if he’d suffered
she just laughed real low and wouldn’t say a word

*