i. arrival

oriental muzak
twenty one floors up

your apartment
had only existed in letters
until then

you giggle
peering
over the balcony
at the highway’s million eyes

for now
penang hill remains
a morning revision
to my map of your
adopted city

sipping duty free vodka
from ceramic tea cups

the neighbour’s plumbing sings
thunderous lullabies

you hum a welcome tune
beneath the fluorescent light
that flickers off and on

and on the other side of your curtain
the city is unaffected.

 

ii. you give me a backpack

my bottle of water leaks
flooding the city
on the map you left me

resting it on the table
beside a tiger beer and
char kay teow

it dries to resemble
an oyster shell

out of the wind
a sinkhole
develops on my chest
to show the sweat
deepening

new faces
seeping through
the languid crowd
of lunchtime

the streets belong
to a crumpled map

i take my bearings from the jetties
arms reaching
for the mainland

 

iii. you say tonight we aren’t cooking

we are translucent
in the first avenue mall

we link hands in the elevator

stepping out
florescent lights reflect
on the buffed white tiles

you and i
pale in comparison

at the end of
your crystalline arm
plastic bags conceal
white polystyrene
steaming with
saffron and majoram

our cool bodies
lost amid the
humid crowd’s
damp insistence

faces to the ground
rushing to escape the rain

we are dissolved
into the evening tide

from a pregnant afternoon
swelling and rumbling
an evening downpour
like waters breaking

we watch as a single brown
thong careers along a gutter
is deposited into a drain

under the bus shelter
you look at me through streaks
of wet hair

freckles mark you
as the one person
here i can claim
to know

drying off
on the bench beside us
an old man offers me
a cigarette from a gold case

bottlenecking
the concentration
of warm bodies
damp clothes retaining
latent market-stall incense
sweeps us onto the bus

we sit with our dinner
still warm on your lap

 

iv. the number 11 bus

on the side of the road
storm-water drains a foot deep
guzzle our wake

your city is a flood
but not even you seem
perturbed

soon the bus windows fog up
we can no longer navigate
by the stars

seeking dry land
we stride toward your apartment

the rain has lost its impetus
as we relish our thongs
breaching the tepid puddles

 

v. we eat on the sofa

your housemates are home
at the front door
we leave our shoes by theirs

you bring cutlery
sitting on the brown sofa
we use our fingers

your eyes roll
hearing murmurs from
the other bedroom

you suggest the television
once i have said
my eyes are closing

 

vi. tomorrow we catch our first plane together

for now
we lie above the city

in the reverse cycled
embrace of a wall mount
air conditioner

our limbs
beneath the sheets
remembering lost
topographies

our analogues
updating

through the mythologies
of our warm fingertips.

 

Dominic Symes

Dominic Symes

Dominic Symes (27) is a poet from Adelaide, Australia. His poetry has appeared in Voiceworks, Award Winning Australian Writing (2016), Krass Journal and is featured in the 2017 Australian Book Review ‘States of Poetry’ series. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide. His thesis is in the field of ekphrasis and is entitled, ‘Postulating the Personal in Abstract Art through Poetry’. An excerpt from his thesis concerning the history of ekphrasis in Australia has been published in Cordite. His chapbook of ekphrastic collaborations, ‘Shanghai Fever’, was launched as part of the 2016 SALA festival.

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