We Know What We Are Not

We Know What We Are Not

The conversation had returned again to those moments, by now enriched by a private mythology, when they first set eyes on each other.
(Ian McEwen, On Chesil Beach)

The Mythology of a Civil War

Our mythology
written in poetry.
So it twists and digs; the barbs
hook beneath skin.
Now to try taking them out
or leave them in?

We assume roles.
No, I assign them.
I imagine a soldier, I design
an entire costume around him
in the wrong size.
I put on my role.
I’m a comfort girl but my soldier
is shivering in his coat.

I’ve gone with the Civil War –
triggered by the ‘Ma’am’ he makes of me.
He assigned the roles.
He would always be the foot soldier
and I’d be the captain’s whore. Our war
is civil nowadays.
He shoots with a silencer
and I’ve stopped screaming from the captain’s bed.


A Private Mythology

Unseasonal rain cancels the concert.
I would’ve made something of that. And he
would’ve known I would’ve made
something of that and would’ve
walked home, wet
but warm with the ideas
I would’ve shared with him
and no-one else.


The Mythology of Sin

Oh, yeah, that first night. Oh, yeah,
that first when we edged around the volcano lip,
then suddenly fell in. That
was a kitchen of fire
and we were cooking. That
was a rush of hungry tongues
and we were Iron Chefs, and we
were dead meat.


The Mythology of the Romance Languages

A Romeo with a 457 hasn’t slept
with an Australian
True, we can be brittle
and dry as cuttlefish. Comes from
years of trying to love men
who are miles from their own selves. It’s like
trying to follow a current
to its end.
And no-one
to be left out at sea.

Am I up to the Chianti
and the arias?
I’m a humble Australian but
from the hood of my ute
I show him stars.

A sand dollar
holds currency
in a falling market.
I keep it on my dashboard,
white with death.
He keeps himself breathing
through his texts, says I left
on him a sign. I think
maybe he means ‘impression’
like the petals
in a sea urchin’s skeleton.


No Mythology

First eyes –
defenceless brown and disturbing
bushfire blue. We sign up for life.

His brother interrupts our sacred act:
separately reading
novels. Together,
we turn a page
on companionship.

His suitor bristles
as he reads me lines of helpless love
in the hot springs.
I shrug off the rival’s resentment –
it’s only poetry
and we’re well beyond sex. Perhaps
that’s worse. Perhaps
we’ve crossed a border
and no-one else knows where it is.

Now so familiar – we anticipate
hurt; we breathe the signs, can even
peel a terse word
to find the real problem inside.
And our mythology isn’t.
It’s all true.


Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar


About sandrathibodeaux

Poet and Playwright
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