Poems by Fiona Wright
A girl in coral and horn glasses
is discussing the relative frequency
of her massages and orgasms,
and how protein shakes
are made from cattle hearts,
and how the sniffer dogs
might find the Valium in her handbag.
It’s an Indian Summer, and the fairylights
asphyxiate a tree, the bistro buzzers
skitter on the tabletops
and she leans in close,
and chews her plastic straw
and lets her eyes grow wide
on the nervous man beside her.
She tells him
about a recent wedding, where both parties
looked like they were eight months pregnant
and how she’s never understood
why lemons cost much less than limes
and that she’s still black and blue
and this pub really changes of a Friday
and she never should have listened to her mother.
Three women haul their prams onto the balcony
and shake bottles of formula
and order bloody marys.
A girl in horn-rimmed glasses and coral nails
grabs the man beside her by his nervous hand
and leads him out into the street.
The city walled. The house have plain clay faces.
These streets have not been mapped.
The stooped doors force a downcast head.
Cats crawl past automatic pigeon-pluckers.
You are not here,
and black-fingered men beat metal
into dishes held between their bent, bare feet,
and children frisk wasps
from sticky green sweets.
Wet leather drips dye
down glistened backs of couriers,
and bulb-faced women stuff webby pastries
with pickled fat and capsicum.
You are not here, the button-weavers sing.
Je t’aime, Je t’aime the thin boys grin
pressing their legs on their wall-top perches.
You rest beneath the broken waterclock,
the empty belfries echoing the donkey carter’s cry:
Ballack! Ballack! Step back!
The call to prayer curls out
from the carved walls of the madrasa —
You are not here.
“Courthouse Afternoon” was originally published in Cordite 30, no. 1.