Vague, or I Can’t Explain It Any Other Way

You have a new memory:

Every practicing psychologist ever has that

Japanese print of the Tsunami

in their office, says a poet on Facebook.

The system only dreams in total dankness.

There’s an overflow of green

apricots in the back alley where I walk

most days with my daughters to Black Star.

The sun’s not a sphere, it’s a tunnel.

I just wanna get past all the squashed hearts,

I tell my eldest. No they’re hearts of Te Fiti,

she rebukes, asking me to carry one.

Last night she had bad dreams about crocodiles

because they’re in Fantasia, dancing

with the tutu-ed hippos (they’re basically the patriarchy

and it’s definitely not like Moana). Is mummy

at work today? Yes, it’s what’s paying

for your Ginger Ninja, honey, can I have a bite?

Her fake wail rose then like a wave

over the jangle of Belly, her soft toy whale. Were there

sirens on Hawai’i after that missile text was

sent out en masse, everyone there islands at the whim of

more awesome fake forces? I wonder

what happened to whales near Japan when that

Tōhoku earthquake thrusted a mega chunk of earth up,

displacing an even more massive chunk of water

– did their sonar go haywire?

The vision on the USYD gym screens was

unclear (and nuclear) – I’d been thinking I could

make the basketball team to avoid my PhD

but then two shoes collided head-on

in a defensive scramble, lifting my left big toe

-nail from its quick. In any event,

I hadn’t read Derrida yet, and a ghost called ‘You’

called me from work to check whether I was seeing this

black sludge swallowing roads. I already had

my mouth open (not just in agony)

– I was swiping over cracks in my phone

to see if Fukushima hadn’t gone under completely

when the screen lit up, buzzed

beneath my thumb, as it does again now

with the girls around me crumbling

at Black Star, Belly jangling, a shooting pain inside my toe

where my toenail used to be entrenched:

you have a new memory.



Image: Mohd Hafizuddin Husin / flickr



Toby Fitch

Toby Fitch is Overland’s poetry editor, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Sydney, and the poet behind RawshockBloomin’ NotionsWhere Only the Sky had Hung Before and, most recently, Sydney Spleen. He is the editor of the poetry anthologies Best of Australian Poems 2021 (co-edited with Ellen van Neerven) and Groundswell: The Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New & Emerging Poets 2007–2020.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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