Water On Mars

After David Wojnarowicz

The highway that connects the Hudson River with your home planet is honest as a knife. Just over halfway I pull off and park in the shadow of a derelict warehouse. Meteorites glint at me as they cruise by in tight jeans and rolled sleeves but I am here only for you tonight. I sit in my car and enjoy the last minutes of unconfirmed life. Then a figure catches my eye. He is tall and has the head of a dog and the body of a man. His teeth are permanently bared and I follow him into the ruin where he disappears. The side wall of the warehouse is missing and the building gapes open to the cosmos. Towards the back rests a steam locomotive, black as a fusion crust. I get close enough to read the pressure gauge: twenty-three thirty-seven, twenty-three thirty-seven. I am aware of the presence of men around me. I think I see Rimbaud behind a column but it is only the moon. I climb the stairs to the second storey. On the landing a man is leaning, his whole body a question. The busted-out windows have let in interplanetary debris as if it were snow. I leave footprints as I search for your red-dust glow. You are painting when I find you. You are painting water. You are not painting a representation of water. You are creating water with your paint. You are painting water into existence. First a stream and then a lake. I accept your invitation to bathe. I wash my face, my hands, my feet. When I am clean we do the things with collars and hems and buttons with only our teeth. Together we make an ancient shape. When we separate you take a can of spray paint and stencil the symbol for house on my chest. Then, with a pen, you sketch flames engulfing it. From the flames we light cigarettes and I blow a chain of perfect red smoke rings — a trick I could never master back on earth.




Jarad Bruinstroop

Jarad Bruinstroop is a writer, PhD candidate and sessional academic at QUT. His work has appeared in Meanjin, Island, Westerly, Australian Poetry Journal and elsewhere. He was the runner-up in the 2021 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. He is the 2022 Fryer Library Creative Writing Fellow. @jbruinstroop

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