I think we are ready to start having relationships with other people
We were so ahead of ourselves:
a bridled smile
eating its own leather.
Little pain storms we talked
through the cringing middle of,
then washed our hands.
Our poor peripherals, straining themselves
through half-strength Tuesday dinners,
dark wine. Sort-of-love’s only purblind.
Some confessions stick like stove filth.
Some houseplants die suddenly
and others are dying the whole time.
I thought it was a fine idea and I thought it was a terrible idea
and I had doubtsand a friend said you must
and another said why
and I thought it could be usefulor I thought it could be efficacious
and I thought it would be exposing and I would never do it
and I defended it in a car by saying there are stories that aren’t told
and they could be told more
or there could be models where there are
very few models
and I met my proper love and I said the thing about the stories and the models
and I believed my own words and I doubted my own words
There are people in wrong boots, heavy with hunting tackle
and they are crossing the ice, and the ice is singing and cracking
There are people playing sets of tennis, set after set after set
they are forgetting their jobs, they are forgetting their children
the meniscus in their knees is snapping like rubber bands
and they are playing and playing
Joan Fleming is the author of two collections of poetry, The Same as Yes (VUP, 2011) and Failed Love Poems (VUP, 2015), and the chapbook Two Dreams in Which Things Are Taken (Duets). Her new collection Dirt is forthcoming. She holds a PhD in ethnopoetics from Monash University, and is the New Zealand/Aotearoa Commissioning Editor for Cordite Poetry Review. She currently lives in Madrid, and in 2020 she will travel to Honduras for the Our Little Roses Poetry Teaching Fellowship.