DIRTY GIRL IN THE CLEANEST WAY
pt 1. DERACINATED
can you smell the particulars of the grooves in the bark
of the ageing tree behind my back? have you
touched her yet? have you the courage?
see the side of a small house, the
home that’s going to be mine, its body shaped in
weatherboards that are only off-white because they have
soaked in the colour of the sky for so long;
the sun is gentle here. do you understand
how much my body craves belonging?
where the light around me sifts through fine fingers of foliage.
no urban debris threatens the skin, the earth sings –
can you feel her humming through your toes?
do you think outer space smells like lemon balm and sage crushed between
dirty fingers? NASA estimates
there are between one hundred billion and four hundred billion stars
in the Milky Way. but we don’t
where do my feet call home?
up to ten-to-the-tenth bacteria cells exist with a species diversity of
four-by-ten-to-the-third to five-by-ten-to-the-fourth
in every gram of dirt. have you ever
counted the number of seeds
on the outside of a strawberry? or picked apart every juice
vesicle in a single orange segment
the sticky sweet citrus congealing in your hands? i can’t
swallow the scale of the universe
of the worlds inside the
dirt under my fingernails.
Mycobacterium vaccae improves human vitality and cognitive function. can
you touch my happiness?
pt. 2 SKIN UNFAMILIAR
do you know what
it means to be a girl?
it means i want to live somewhere
where i am always unseen.
i am trying to say is that there’s a pomegranate tree i
go past every morning on the bus
she has no leaves and only a handful of overripe fruit clutched in her bare hands. i wonder
from a distance
if they feel soft and pulpy with flesh caving in at the press of a clumsy finger
or like brittle crystallised infertile stones. they don’t hang from the
fine stretch of branches they are uplifted –
a strange offering. i’ve gone past this tree countless times and yet this is the
first time i’ve noticed her.
i went down to the creek
the other day, my hands full of flowers and
i let them go and i
didn't recognise my own palms washing in the water. being
a girl - to belabour the point - is
sometimes being unable to find my own
i have feet like a boy's
made for running and stomping and for
digging my toes in the soft silty dirt as though
they could keep me grounded.
chokes the earth but i
was born there, you know. i stand
with my feet on different continents, the ocean
gnashing against the backs of my knees.
i’ve spent a long time running from
everything that ever called my name.