Contact Point

Screw them, with their sweethearts,
their darlings, their beloveds, their wives:
I just want to be your emergency contact.

Some scoff at those who mark love
contractual: dated photographs, notarised declarations,
joint bank accounts, white goods.

An aside: let’s only ever buy coloured appliances,
crimson toaster khaki kettle umber washing machine –
we shall be resplendent when we occupy our love.

But when your spleen is on the street
and they check your smashed phone,
all I want is to be the number that they call,

the number you dial to the end of your days
forsaking all other numbers before me,
unless I change my number or you

have changed your mind:
your consent is paramount my paramour.
Here: have the keys to my house.

I have the keys to yours, but always keep
your own house, I’ll keep mine too.
I am tranquil to the complex love

that comes from seeing the same face over a long time
and knowing it to be only the summary
of the person: a précis, which is not the history.

You look terrible in that backless gown
but I’m glad you called me.
When the hospital’s welcome group

leaves a note that says “to Baby Nash’s
other main carer”,
we’ll know that means I am the father.

And we don’t care what they call me.
I will say, “Luke, I am your father”,
and you will laugh, even though you’ve heard this line before.

When it is over for you and me, assuming that you end it first,
I will do precisely as you ask,
because we will have talked about it before.

I will not baulk at your suggestions,
treat you as a tyrant from the grave, for this
is the deep blue dance of love enacted

privately, which only appears to others
(who cannot ever see what goes on inside)
managerial when it is majestic,

superintendent when rife with delight.
And so, in the imperfect, unqualified ending,
I will honour your wishes

make the necessary arrangements
no one need talk again
of what I was to you or what you were to me.

For we were the contact point
the most meaningful of life’s circuitry
the gold the silver the cheaper metal

that passes wild currency, ribald electricity
electromagnetic voltage that shocks and starts
and with that spark deep in my heart, I will

sign in at reception
for I know your blood type
and if you have any allergies.

The use of mobile phones is
prohibited in this area
but you can always call me, your darling.

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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