DIRTY GIRL IN THE CLEANEST WAY

claire na


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?

a place

where the light around me sifts through fine fingers of foliage. 

feet bare 

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

know for sure

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.

what

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

reflection.

 

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. 

 

saline water

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. 


CLAIRE NA

Claire has too many plants in her bedroom. She keeps buying more. It's becoming a problem.