Six Brief Australias
by Jason Nelson
These are not sunglasses. The darkest of them are not pleading and trimmed metal frames. By framing the forehead, they remove the need for chlorophyll or gas lit lights. Potted plants are self-contained, rocks sabotaging the soil, less than concrete, or more than farming. In the driest days of June through August, the southern hemisphere is a snowless winter, and squinting in traffic is a dangerous staccato. But I continue steering, combustion like a coloring book, through the lines and neighborhood shapes, all scraggled and sun charred. The bridge, the nose, and uneven ears cannot be heated beyond glass. Even when the nearest pump isn’t far, and leaving the garage leaves you open to the remaining slipstream weather.
These people are from the hills. A spring fed island of luxury estates on acreless lots. A speed limited enclave of vice-presidents, money drainers, oil puppets, the stone fence between two hundred dollar t-shirts. Caffeine makes me suspicious. These are the hundred thousandaires, enough money for privilege in a cheap coastal city. You could trade the three bedroom Queenslander of Australia for a mansion in Oklahoma, the status of house alarms and circular drives. These people are climbers, an orphanage for society events, the comfort of being frogs in a backyard pond, a leash law for cats and law firms.
She is talking to her plastic surgery. The need for youthful parts and input into the surrounding pastel walls. Stone tile, velvet chairs and a menu written to be both readable and homemade. Does she want to relive the same four years, looping the strain back, a stuttering skin age? A nervous clutch, a helium purse lifting beneath her suede. On the third shelf of a bookless bookcase is a jewelry box where she keeps the parts the doctors remove. Beneath her neck is taught skin, a canyon of medical erosion, as if she requested foldable jaws. A ravine to hide washing machines and doorless freezers. Knitted, rather knotted into a bracelet, a broach, a paused chain are her stitches. Three hundred and forty-five plastic and nylon threads, cut and pulled from wounds. One day she will have a wedding dress tailored from these closing strings. And as she approaches the front, a crowded and flowery white church, she will pray that she doesn’t unravel before the vows.
Harbors in Harbors
There isn’t a core, not a center, no bearing lines extended, no fire alarms marked by people on fire. Hollow causes floating and bloated ushers for an expensive summer camp along the calmest, deepest river. We should build boats as if they were pacemakers or artificial hips on the less than cautious when they were young. If the absence of an interior, if the expected noise of a change machine, if each plane window, oval and plastic paned breaks, will we charge collector knives into our belts, below, below the ocean? The crust, the filling, a rounded and heated form, only expands when enough of those long and longing walks off shore make exploring a tedious thesaurus. Against the chair is the floor and beneath the floor is another chair, and the vents explode and explode.
Sit Down Restaurant
Draw a map on your kitchen floor, or on another’s kitchen floor. Crawl up the tiles, forks and spoons in your hair, charged with the darkest tea you can brew. Use the thick felt of a permanent marker and spread lines, all arrowed and divisive, between every hinge in the room. Brass is a systematic metal, made from long distance friendships, hammered for stories, summarizing months into minutes. Between the lines draw sharp hooks, twisting fishing lures that smell of stagnant lakes, rivers dammed too early in the spring. And while waiting for your sketches to dry, open the cabinets and remove only the healthiest of foods.
Intercom and other Airports
Perhaps she will never need as many hats as she has elaborate dinner plans. Perhaps it is a warning. Blinking into Brisbane, ribboned hair searching for an outlet, power for small devices and colors, sounds and cords. Most of them count with the announcements, a search for Portuguese and thank you in Chinese. You can wash your hands for too long in the airport. Security, or at least someone dressed securely, will wash their hands next you, watching your fingers, the lather, your rip of the paper towels. The loud speaker messages are never from the same voice. Possibly there is a line as long as baggage screening, that corridors behind the counter. Each person is given one announcement and then they go home. We are defending ourselves, demonstrating our capacity for vocal inflection, electricity too crowded for anything but appliances that warm.