Everything We Lost
by Naomi Wood
It’s Valentine’s Day somewhere between New Year’s Eve and Rome burning
And we are sipping lattes in the rain.
People’s smiles have skulked off
To sullen corners of their faces
Waiting for someone to tell them
Things can all go back to how they were before.
I’d spent the morning listening to a friend
Who said she was wrestling with a
Melancholy man trapped inside a folk singer
And I had said maybe we should start believing them
When they tell us exactly who they are?
So instead we drew our mouths on
Real big and slick with crimson
The way we did
When we were
Fifteen and smiling in skate parks
Before we learnt that our tricks never lasted long-
A Cinderella spell that wore off after midnight and excessive dancing.
As if truth burns us brilliant
Down to our undiluted core.
But then (like all stowaways)
The art of slipping through cracks
And making parachutes from our
Petticoats. After all.
The boys would joke and jibe
Rating us out of ten
While we shrugged it off laughing
So they couldn’t win.
We snarled and spat
Snapped our jaws the way we’d learnt already
To keep the wolves from our doors
Becoming beautiful barbaric beasts just to spite them.
Now they say it’s a global apocalypse
And everybody’s hiding in pairs.
The whole world making plyboard
Against the biblical rising tide
Of late stage capitalism.
Years after the fists-through-windows
The free therapy we’ve dished out
The stroking of angry brows
Of tiptoes and bitten tongues–
I have an orgasm, tend plants
Write poetry and sleep
In the centre of the bed.
I haven’t worn a bra in years–
An ex said he found it offensive
The way he could always see my nipples
Winking at him like an invitation…
Or an insult.
But he’s no longer living in my head
Or my body rent free.
After the faded memories of
Him bruising the carapace of the wall
With the missile of his fist
And ripping up the poster I had
Of the woman whose gaze never wavered
From the horizon
–And Maybe we are just hordes
Of too-much woman
Who shone and blundered–
But the acoustics in my body
Aren’t begging him
To unbreak my art anymore.
We pour rum into our coffees
And kick leaves with our boots
In the park.
I suddenly see my likeness
In the mottled reflection of a cracked
Public toilet mirror–
A woman in her 30s gloriously alone and vital–
And I think
Isn’t it a rare miracle
How somehow by accident
We become everything
We’ve ever wanted to be.