Tuesday Apr 23

JacksonAndy Andy Jackson has been featured as a poet and a performer at literary events and arts festivals in Ireland, India, the USA and Australia, including the 2017 Castlemaine State Festival with Each Map of Scars, a collaboration with Rachael Guy and Leonie Van Eyk. Andy's poems have been selected for five of the last six annual editions of The Best Australian Poems. His most recent collection, Music our bodies can't hold (2017), consists of portrait poems of other people with Marfan Syndrome, and was recently featured on ABC Radio National's Earshot. He has worked in call-centers, libraries, and as a creative writing tutor, and is currently undertaking a PhD in poetry and bodily otherness through the University of Adelaide.

we accept everyone

seems the subtext of the fixed glance
the waiter gives me, half-smiling
straining not to look at my disobedient spine

only at what must hide underneath—
someone in need of healing or acceptance
his posture is dutiful, beard bedraggled

it's not a cult or a sect, but a community of love
and victory over death, the pamphlets proclaim
I've only come back for the green drink
and the soup that tastes like a 1995 sharehouse

he leads me past the kitchen into a room
I didn't realise was there
manoeuvring past his hospitality
I sit on a reclaimed wooden bench

alert for the appearance of signs—
frayed threads from the gingham curtains
little twitches breaking the pleasant
expressions of the women with their absence

of makeup, long hair and carefulness—
facing inward, the windows closed,
we all sense, outside, the cold distances

of the valley, and how the mountains
teem with animals that are frightened of us—
clouds close in over the steep main street

wide-eyed, the waiter tells me he used to feel
on the outside of everything, dreaming
of the resurrection of the body
I can only nod, stare into the white bowl

until he moves on to the next table

Pillow Angel

Love signs the consent forms
in the presence of the specialists, who assure us
she will always have the mind of a toddler.

A black stork lands outside the kitchen window.

She can't talk, keep her head up, grip a toy or change
her sleeping position. She is fed with a tube.
We're careful who we tell about the treatment.

Some become flooded with silence and turn away.

Of all the procedures, what unsettles you most
is the oestrogen therapy to limit her growth.
Don't worry, none of this will happen to you.

In the bible, an angel will appear in human form.

Metal and pulleys are nothing compared to human touch,
a parent lifting their own forever-small angel.
After the surgeries, it seemed her pain was minimal.

I look into her eyes and try my best to imagine.

She startles easily, loves classical music
and will never understand 'autonomy'.
If only we could live forever to care for her.

The black stork flies off. We can't be sure

she recognises us, but where we place her,
usually on a large pillow, she stays,
surrounded by soft toys.

Under the Study

slowly realising
it's not a broken pipe

the wincing smell
            too familiar

your house on a gradual hill

has crawled into the vertex
            out of reach

what rises from underneath
            if a ghost were flesh
                        deconstructing itself

more microbial cells in you than human

it's only a matter of time
                        the plumber says

you keep the door shut
but the phone rings
                   from inside the room

there are poems to print
and each day curiosity
            itching at the cavities of you

body without identity
                        dispersing into