in some not unsmall part of me

I start to feel as if I will have a panic attack: I’m aware of everything far too acutely.

Underneath my hand, the mouse and its navigation wheel take on the intensity of a breast and a nipple, and I can’t seem to manage the routine acts of click, credit card details, boarding pass. Take the bike home. The back wheel seems a little deflated, or just disheartened in the heat, I feel the leap in the front wheel, then drag in the rear.

At home while trying to pack, with my top off against the heat of midday and temporary fatigue, I feel skin smarting against the menthol of my tiger balm which has somehow merged with the sweat of my exertion and is stinging two scratches that are healing on my back. There is one cruel minute of sensation on a ten-cent piece place on my right shoulder and maybe ten minutes later another on my left hip.

The cab comes, the driver says he has just seen a gang of bikers, damn they’re big fellas, on Boundary St and the tatts, man the tatts. I hear whitenoise in my left ear, there is a small lump on the inside of my right cheek, there is a nub of hurt inside my right deltoid. He’s taking the Go Between if that’s okay? My voice is quiet from the back seat of the cab, he says, “you must be a very gentle person” as I mention that maybe if you had someone that you knew or loved who had a lot of tattoos it would seem more neutral and perhaps it’s just something that happens, to feel afraid of that, in the way that we are afraid of things that are different. We ask each other if we have tattoos; he has one, which he did not get until he was 43 and he likes it very much, he shows me the skin on the inner of his arm and I remember the last time that I have seen that exact colour and it was at the ocean and I was in my dreams. We pass the takeaway restaurant with the group of bikers and I cannot help but notice head and skin and arm and muscle and ink and mark and I fear that I see that muscle so clearly I can smell it. Every Jacaranda tree snags my eye and the small muscles at the edge of my eyeballs feel like snapping.

Forgetful and hungry, I bring a fork through security and when we open my lunch, there is a verdant heat to the coriander as the plastic container opens up and I feel like a whole garden is calling me into the stupid, rectangular box. Then I dispose of the weapon of mass destruction.

Moments of waiting before the plane departs feel like a record being played at the wrong speed, passers-by speed up, then slow down, they come forwards, they play backwards, I hear angels, I am the devil, my skin is oxygenated only for the inside layers and the six or so others are sloughing off me in some sort of dermal disinterest. My skin says to me, “I do not care for you any more, you and all your flesh and bone and organ and sweetmeats can fend for yourselves” and then my entire viscera falls to the floor. I gather it up as they call my flight.

I hear you whispering to me in my ear as I wait to board. I feel me screaming out of my head as I wait to board. I wait. Too bored. Too bored to wait.

Inside the plane I breathe or read Sontag. Read Sontag until I can’t bear it with its clinically cool thoughts. Breathe until it feels insane with the heated repetition. Read Sontag til I’m calm again. Write an email. These are the things you thought you would feel like saying next week, when they are meant to be being said. But next week, you’re not going to feel like you. The confectionary of thinking is rotting my teeth. The second back molar on the left side of my bottom jaw vibrates at the same frequency as the recirculating air of the plane.

Disembark via the rear stairs into the cold air. I want to retract like a baby too soon born back into the womb of the plane that stinks of the aromas of a hundred unfamiliar people. I pass a girl I went to school with I find your car although you were sounding the horn I never heard it the car smells clean your legs are long you are far from the dashboard because your legs are long I never sit that far back my legs are short I touch your hand and you touch mine and that feels good.

Inside the house, which is radiant with the neon of a friend, I put my head against your chest and you pat my back softly with neutrality and I begin to cry. Lifting my head a little later I notice the darkened grey line of the tears down your windcheater and it is as if I have taken a monochrome knife to your chest and all colour is gone from just that chest size square of the world and I want to fold into that geography. There is a Cartesian eroticism to that space on your body which has a rift made by my tears.

The world speeds up to eat and drink and walk and moon and smoke and sink and clink Averna teeth chattering dog jumping licking talking to you and he and she and they and we and you after all this time you think I have the answer? You think that I could tell you anything else but my every waking thought? That we have no bulwark against the evil of banality so if you find some sandbag along the way, collect it, store it, hoard it, gloat to it, revel in it, cherish it, devour every grain of it, barricade against the petty, rampart against illusory loss, bastion of body and blood. You are an earthworker, this is your love. If you chose, then one day you mayest. There will be no shalt. There is no will. Only mayest.

Move into everything you fear the most. Open up the door and walk through it.

Wanting not to need you takes no need away your message arrives and then you arrive you are needed and best made. In the car eventually I lie down upon your leg because I can’t stay up in my spine or look at the street passing by, I feel the muscle of your left leg and change the gears first down to second up and across to third back down to fourth change down we’re cornering I never could change down, yesterday’s takeaway coffee stains my back brown and I need to eat I need to eat I haven’t eaten when I don’t eat I am ruined my life is ruined my life is a ruin we are done we are eating have we eaten thank god we have eaten I needed to eat. Everything could be exactly same again, junkies on Gertrude St, pour over in the morning, Feist on the stereo, baristas with giant koi tattoos, you best made like an axe fine and light wood please get me a nurofen I need to eat, if only we would chose to make it so.

It takes a kilometer or so to remember how to use my arms and my legs at the same time. I listen to your iPod which is homesickness made memory, the entire cab of the utility is longing and wistfulness and do you want spinach in or silverbeet in or Reidel like needle or a tiny bath or a fresh towel or Osso Bucco or beetroots with butter and fried capers or a massage or a ride tomorrow or coffee crème or fire smoke upon your clothes?

So I skip that song.

When does the silence of love become reprimand?

And in some not unsmall part of me I feel as if I will have a panic attack: I’m aware of everything far too acutely, and I’ve only just arrived at that door.

Categorized as musing

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.


  1. I feel I need to comment. You take me on a journey when I read your poems. I really haven’t had anything to do with poetry since high school but I remember how much I enjoyed the semester in senior drama on performance poetry. Anyway, I look forward to Words or Whatever on the 16th!

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s