And in the morning when I wake,
I go down to the river reflecting
a white-pink sky, and wash my hands
until they burn. You held these hands
once, and traced every indent, every
small sinew along my wrist. You
breathed life back into them.
You knew these hands once.
And I am trying very hard
to find new ones.
There’s rosemary on every corner
of my street and a vigil of cats
as I welcome other people over for tea.
We have breakfast in the hall, eating
from makeshift tables
made of cushions so that we can watch
the sunrise. And really see it.
“These are new patterns.”
I tell myself this.
I sleep fitfully, scratching at my
skin and resolve to bare my neck,
bright and tender, to the first set of
eyes I find.
“It’s a dare,” I tell myself.
“I really mean it.”
All these stories make up a life.
Photographs of lemon trees and spiders
against the midmorning blue.
Sealed letters in open drawers and
roses drying in their vases. Fragments
of memories, of proud trophies that
decorate my house and keep me safe –
But you are where I cannot reach.
And I can’t seem to carve you out.
And in the night-morning I go down
to the river, which is a bathroom,
which is an overbleached sink under a
mirror that keeps asking me why
I didn’t stay. My soul and your memory
dance as a pin-prick beneath my ribs.
When I try to sleep, again, each time,
you lay your head on my pillow
I doubt at times I ever really had.
Fen Carter is a writer of poetry, plays, screenplays, books, and is occasionally a podcast host. They are never found without a cup of tea in their hand and a fountain pen in their hair.
Nicole Jacobsen is a Brisbane artist, writer, poet, and aspiring editor who regularly finds herself re-befuddled by the difference between who and whom. Her background in Psychology emerges through character studies, obsessive bouts of self-reflection, and recurrent themes of mental health in her work.