our stitching and unstitching
Hester J. Rook
my neighbour’s roses brush my face each time I leave the house. on exodus I am anointed, kissed with perfumed dew, menaced with the warm threat of thorns; this place is where my ghosts live, after all. wiry stems bless my abandonment and my return, rosa rugosa for strange protection. in the pre-dawn the ghosts are fewer. streetlight stars bloom, illuminate garlands of warning tape looped across powerlines. roller doors lean half-open, heavy eyelids waking for the day. lights flow down, gravity- trapped, yellow and green and red, shocking over crooked pavement. they ripple, colourful mimics, copying the way moonlight bucks over the toss of ocean. yes, the ghosts are fewer, and I can cross without the shiver-thrill of passing in their wake. when ghosts talk they claim stagnation, entrapment, curses, but I long ago learned to disbelieve the people you love who harm you and claim they have no choice. the air breathes a post-rain sigh and each day that crisps cold against my throat reminds me of places I no longer call home. the wet sop of cobblestones under a wave of festive lights; brisk walks through tree-killing cold, past the hot sizzle of corn-cobs roasted atop shopping trolleys; the stink of mountain towns as dawn cracks open and the yolk sun spills. I used to think my own quiet curse was to leave so many of those I love behind, trapped behind distance and the unspooling of time. but this is its own curse too, to love a place for so long that every corner holds the threat of those who did not love me well. my ghosts burrow into the pattern of these streets, maggots hooked in softest flesh, binding themselves, shibari-tight, breath-close to the people they love who hurt them, and who claim they have no choice.
here, in this place, I do not believe in tethers that the entrapped can cut themselves.
Hester J. Rook is an Australian Shadows Award-winning and Rhysling Award-shortlisted poet, fiction writer and co-editor of Twisted Moon Magazine. They are often found salt-scrunched on beaches, reading arcane tales and losing the moon in mugs of tea. Find Hester on Twitter @hesterjrook and read more poems and fiction at https://hesterjrook.com.