Published in Best Australian Poems 2010
You asked to stop there for a can of coke, you needed to piss
and the tank was empty so I pulled in. I stood by the bowser
pumping gas to fuel dreams set on fire years before and you
said to the attendant that you'd been short changed.
If only you knew the truth in that.
The tyres were near-bald and paint job robbed by rust and we
were there ten metres apart, sliding doors between us and I
was standing watching your mouth move.
You were telling the attendant that there were not enough
coins—the change was wrong—and you were pleading with
your eyes with one hand in your front pocket looking casual
And you looked at me through the glass and back at him and
you picked at lint from your stained pull over.
I watched your mouth.
You were hoping like fuck that he'd give you that two dollar
coin so you could walk through those sliding doors, flip that
piece, lay it on the dash, shove your feet up and feel just a little
richer for all those years we'd spent.
You sleep softly on fire in a city that knows her footsteps from time to time Your bones slip into each other Your bones slip into her honey-milk hands that are framed by the brown couch in the lounge room She looks like home You sit on the couch and it cradles the shy-love-lust and her brown-cow eyes bore into yours Several cups of tea and wine entertain your hands until the glasses and mugs are dry You blink and she's still staring and you're not sure of what to say so you tell her everything except for what you want to You don't know how to interpret any more than the back of her hands She's gone now And before she went you said goodbye A cold porch under your bedroom-feet and her in boots from Canada And you wanted to raise your voice to bridge the distance but you realised that she speaks only in whispers So you're here on this bed that she passed by once You're here on this bed with bones and a bare mattress in a crowded city that she once drifted through
This is How
Recorded by Kieran Ruffles (RRR Studio) for Going Down Swinging, read by Allison Browning. Published in Going Down Swinging edition 34 and in Rabbit edition 2.