city, how long

married in midnight blue

have we been sleeping together?

your body comforting to mine
sticky with a summer torpor
my night times soft and vision free
every place in you newly discoverable,
my mother never visiting
– Mary chanting Magnificat –

the spectres of my other cities
only sheltered in
the snobbery of comparison
like violence

girls so like Fitzroy a lifetime ago
gigs so like St Kilda a decade ago
bars so like Brunswick five years ago

and they were all like some other city
some other time anyway
borrowed memory lingers
like the smell of vomit on the carpet

still, I’ve never asked
about the house where you grew up
incurious about your teenage years
the side streets where you steeped your skin
in bourbon and puberty

mute only to your newness
ignoring the rubble of your childhood
the razed out suburbs
where you were once at war
the smoking stubs of cigarettes
your parents used to smoke before they knew
it was bad for them
they were bad for it
they were bad for each other
or good for each other,
depending on if you can take
as forgiveness

I didn’t want to know about your mass graves,
Boggo Road songbirds buried down the hill –
look how glorious you look with a tan!
the sunkiss of your skin is a saltlick to my tongue

I like your tourist kitsch
always such an upstart climber
permit me to indulge my trashy core
let’s not be Black Peters,
take me to an open bed, an abandoned lot,
the bonnet of your car and then some lookout
I came to celebrate a nation
not to think of jo-peters blackly
opening cell wounds to bury down
native protestors like lame bulbs into the dirt

no one asks pretty girls who give it up
what they think
but sometimes when I leave you
there is weeping
and I wonder
about the bayonet of your blank face
the drug of your forgiving cunt

By Eleanor Jackson

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

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