The coffee coffee drinks

Fortis ut mors dilectio
— from the Song of Solomon, as inscribed on a necklace
my grandfather gave my grandmother on their engagement.

     love is as strong as death
                                                                          —this coffee is at least

                                   though when the flickering bickering of a lifetime
                                      is gathered up
                                                                    it is unable to fill even a single cup

                kept     in the small heart-shaped chamber
                                              of the house you carry with you

              we’re as close as jeans & skin
                                                                                 —like lint

     collecting one another from the airport
                             a week apart      we sit together now
                                    in the shuddering depths of night

            watching the staff head home exhausted
                                                                   from straddling time zones
from being so polite

joint like a bank account      our money
    is the same money
                                                even when the interest
        rate is variable:

                                         where do I put it all?

                where does it fit
                                          this misplaced romantic intensity?

                      the libraries are full
                                                                              & galleries
preach a learned disinterestedness

                                                              this will be an everlasting love

                           sings the cartoon baby bird
                                                                                                        discovering its voice

                              loving you makes me not believe in miracles

                                 but in life     & death     turning over

                                    like the pedals on your pushbike      loudly

                                              declaring their decay     & rust

everything tastes sweeter in the dark
                            that trust
            is earned
                                           —you learn
                                     not     to ignore the symptoms

       but to relish instead your diagnosis:

                                                                           to love the love you know.



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Dominic Symes

Dominic Symes is a poet writing on Kaurna Country in Adelaide, South Australia. His poetry has featured in Australian Poetry Journal, Australian Book Review, Transnational Literature and Award Winning Australian Writing. He curates ‘NO WAVE’, a monthly poetry reading series at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Thebarton. He was selected for Cordite/Australian Poetry's ‘Tell me like you mean it’ anthology and appeared at the Emerging Writers Festival in 2020.

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