Somewhere between spirit
and appetite, a boy
untangles teabag strings, lifts
floor dust with wet hands.
Redbacks observe him
from the cornices, and boys.
He’s feverish, by himself
while his mother gets groceries.
Sweat pearls the salt lamp in the den.
Alabaster men grapple
atop the piano—white-
eyed, posed and white-lipped.
He knows well not to do this.
Not to walk to the church
op shop, root for knives whose
cheap handle rivets whirl
on the tang. Whose slabs
peel. Not to pull from the bargain bin
a bag of pressed flowers, secret
petals beneath the knife handles,
seal them with superglue,
a found tube. Not to be wasps in the grass
or minigolf holes or hoses.
Not to blindfold. Not to touch, not
to tell, not to read, not to let the sun
shudder him, squeal him
like not a boy. His cinnamon sticks,
his juice bottles. His yellow
assembly place. His temperature, his
park, his yabby pond, his voice
in drowned bark missives, his bed
If you liked this poem, buy the issue