The skin of longing

I dream. I can channel 
the dying 
get out, get out, 
I say. When I wake 
I forget the names 
of days. 
Each day I call 
The weeks lose 
their boundaries. 
Falling the sensation of 
and flinch like a stutter. 
Every day 
when I walk past 
the hospital 
my eyes run. 
I can’t stop them. 
Close to the surface 
the body is water. 
Protect your loved 
ones. The body 
is fluids. Dry hands 
are safe hands. 
Snot sparkles 
yellow globules 
on the bus window. 
The smell of urine 
will hang on for days. 
The paper will dispense one 
thin square at a time. 
The toilet will flush 
Used condoms 
decorate the town- 
belt, a spill of seed 
across daisies. 
To leave your outline 
press firm into 
the warm earth. 
Looking for rakish 
I found his pubic hair 
in my dictionary 
pressed to recall 
a whiskey question 
mark, curved 
as a phallos bird. 
Sanguine. Heat 
sucks at the marrow 
a glut of phlegm. 
The bed a rut I lie 
in. Light spasms. 
When the fever 
wears me, my sweat 
beads along the hem. 
It is a scratchy fabric. 
When night comes 
we air our secrets. 
We show each other 
our scars. 
Each to their own 
of longing. 
Open up 
Open up and let me in. 
There are guards 
you say, all 
along my borders 
and they are armed 
but you know 
how to bribe them. 
I want to know 
who owns the fish 
that swim in my shadow? 
I hold. The past 
clenched in me 
and on. Lurking 
you call it. When 
I unscrew my head 
sadness swarms 
fruitflies in your face. 
Blue at the edge 
and it spreads 
dark to the soft 
middle. You won’t 
believe the things 
words have done 
to me. Until I show you 
the lines like gill slits 
along arteries, main. 
He always wrote 
like that, I say 
in upper case. 
Each to their own 
boundaries. I reach 
and reach and nothing. 
The nights are anaemic. 
You can lick my tears 
but it doesn’t make 
you crying. Please stop 
you say and I realise 
I have been banging 
all this time 
against walls 
that will not fall. 
It’s nobody’s fault 
you tell me 
down the line, your voice 
like a pulse in me. 
But perhaps it is mine. 
The fault. I am always there 
you say. And if I knew 
where there was 
I would find you. 


Mariana Isara has just finished an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University. Her poems have appeared in the shower, on the bus, and while trying to sleep. She lives in Christchurch.