Graphic by Harriet Sherlock
This piece was originally published in ‘Pleasure and Danger’, Bossy’s 2020 print edition.
Pretend for a moment that the rich aren’t getting richer. Let’s say the dead aren’t rotting. That the bushfires won’t swallow us up, my love. Let me cook you the best meal you’ve eaten. So that you know what fire feels as it scrapes towns into its open mouth – savouring every bite, licking up wooden beams and whistling smoky satisfaction in embers spat out and carried on the wind. The Gods could only wish for such a feast. Our destruction is manmade.
Let’s lie here a minute, we’re in no rush. The world has always been a train crash in slow motion; our bodies hurled towards fates bigger than ourselves. There are always more graves than babes and more songs than time to sing them. I love you, so I’ll play the part of silver-tongued Hermes. I’ll lie, trick you, and tell you we have time as often as you need to hear it. Let another tomorrow through the door, I promise he won’t bite.
Sing, muse, and tie my wrists behind my back. Steal my breath as the rich steal the bright, reaching future. If this is all there is, then let me spend it with you. Take my stolen breath, count out the song of our fragile present in each rise and fall of my chest as Apollo’s ticking metronome. Keep it for yourself when the moment ends – every inch of my body is yours. I am strung tight as a lyre string in your hands.
Why not steal these moments for ourselves, my love? Why not take the good when it comes? I want to put on records for you, and sing like a nightingale of all the dark times in the world. Every voice that’s ever cried out in the night sings here with me: ‘I’m here! I’m here, where are you? I’m here!’
We have always been here, and we have always been crying out. How lucky I am to know that when I call, I will hear you crying back.
Orpheus sang Eurydice to sleep, so let me lull you. I’ll sing you fruit from every fruit tree, I’ll lie to you splendidly, I’ll build us a house with honeyed words and invite that bright reaching beast inside like an honoured guest. I’ll make a wedding feast from poems, crown us in oil paint, slip on a mask and play every part for your delight.
Pretend with me, my love. Take these simple pleasures as they come. We court eternity like shepherds singing to nymphs. The fruit will sour, but for now, it is sweet.