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
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
it's not a broken pipe
the wincing smell
your house on a gradual hill
has crawled into the vertex
out of reach
what rises from underneath
if a ghost were flesh
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