Heather Taylor Johnson
I suggest something different from longing,
entirely separate from belonging.
I propose spaces.
Not holes or gaps
implying absence or worse
but spaces as places
between what we know.
The big sky
my mother’s face
pizza sauce served thickly.
‘Awesome’ ‘cookie’ ‘garbage can’
my brother’s crooked eye.
SUVs and mountain streams
a bluebird’s song a hummingbird’s wing, tall glasses of 2% milk
my father’s towering body.
saying ‘partner’ rather than ‘husband’
and sometimes stopping
he has an accent.
the footy the ocean
ubiquitous meat pies.
The space I am suggesting
between here and there
is not so big—
The international dateline confuses calendars and friends
and relatives (who I take less lightly),
so yes, they all have an excuse.
Here’s to calling card expirations
and the baby’s almost due
and I didn’t get home until late last night,
and here’s to my forever forgiving simply just forgot
but you must know this:
that on this particularly sentimental day,
that here so far from the reaching Blue Ridge
I am waiting telephone on table
This day is hot
like the summer tried to sneak away,
got caught red sweaty-handed
and spilled all over my body,
and on this day I wish the scent
of the ocean three kilometres away,
for my son to sleep a full two hours,
to tan myself bare
thinly layered sunscreened skin
wisteria my thick fortress.
Sweet family and those pictures of party hats
children with vague names
brown and green corduroy clothes
of the mid 70s we all seemed to wear,
remember this day
colour me into your latest photo
and stick it on the fridge.
Undomesticated university girls,
the river dudes with holey jeans,
my three-year tangle mistake
who shared my tiny bed,
our drinks were always raised to the camera’s lens,
so raise your drinks now, beyond your horizon;
it’s midnight your time
and I’m before noon water bottle ready.
I wish for the dj playing soul
to keep on spinning til the day is done
as I wish for accents like my own
because nothing speaks more of home
than an emphasized r at the end of my name,
the telephone and a strong memory
of an endlessly wooded grass backyard
and the reaching Blue Ridge in the distance.