I leave our bed to go to the toilet
I am tired and sated as I pee and wipe myself
with care, my vulva tender from having you inside me.
I mouth your sweet name, over and over,
like the words of a song I know off by heart.
After all these years together
our bodies are still a miracle to me. Making love,
the soft O of your mouth
against my skin, uttering fragments of nonsense
as I let you in, the silken scissors
of my legs around your waist,
ankles hooked in the small of your back,
your voice and my voice, both,
caressing one another in the chill, winter air.
I return to the bed,
our resting place among the blankets
where I opened to every
curve and dip and press of you.
Your hand against my chest, I
pepper it with kisses, cradle it tenderly,
then open my mouth against your neck,
lap at the cooling salt of your skin,
Our warm breath shines golden in the darkness
as joy and sleep take us.
Think of a bird,
think of how it died,
its small-boned self, smashed
against your kitchen window.
one solitary delphinium blue feather,
and a tiny smear of blood and flesh
that you will clean with newspaper and ammonia.
Think of a bird’s frail body sinking into hollow bones,
still but for the breeze that stirs its thinning feathers.
Think of teams of ants, think of flies
laying maggots into the small cave of a belly, picked clean.
Think of your child finding this bird, or what is left of it,
a scrap of faded blue at her feet. She looks up at you,
expecting like last time, a shoebox, and a cloth.
Some words spoken.
Some kind of ritual.
But you are out of words.
It is late in the afternoon,
she needs a bath and pajamas
and something to eat before bed, and you are tired.
Tired of how they come at you,
their small dark bodies falling
like kamikaze out of the sky,
almost one a week,
to smash their fragile skulls against
your deadly, transparent panes of glass.
Fishing with my Father
That Sunday afternoon,
the two of us, fishing from the rocks.
Standing just clear of the black moss
at the water’s edge, the grey striations of a fish
flopping in my hand, as I tore the hook
from its mouth, under his direction:
gentle, gentle. No need to tear it.
Under the matching grey of an Albany sky,
I hunched against the wind in my jeans, and
fishing jumper, stiff on the front
with fish guts and whale-oil.
I flung my burley and whale-oil mix
as far as I could into the inky water,
a prismatic slick like petrol in the wake, mirrored by
the sleek silver bellies of the skippy in the bucket.
As he took his serrated knife, and twisted his hand,
spearing the fish I’d just caught through its eye,
he told me about a friend of his,
with more money than sense,
who fished in cashmere sweaters.
My father clucked his tongue,
scrubbed his hands together,
and stood up, tall compared to me.
They were all the colours of the rainbow.
Bron Bateman is a poet and academic. Her first collection, People from bones (with Kelly Pilgrim) was published in 2002. Her second collection, Of Memory and Furniture, was published by Fremantle Press in 2020. She lives in Perth, Western Australia with her wife and daughter.