Poem of the Month: ‘Chemistry’ by Carly-Jay Metcalfe

Dismantling your form as you stand in the wake of white laminate,

everything takes its place as arable desire crunches under my downy boots.

I say ‘hello’ like an apology – not wanting to be a duchess of regret

(yes, I am familiar with the dogged predictability of losing)

so I look to the hem of your lips and move up to settle

on the southern tip of your nose;

soft patches of confessional skin a tourniquet to any rind of hope.

          red ink, black ink, blue ink

I wager that there is grace in shutting up.


On my chart of the east, clouds chafe the sky,

my piano moaning like a bird on its last flight.

My body rushes; keening at you like you’re a finish line,

and as I usurp ribbons of catastrophe the dog pack has pinned to my chest,

I see you as a remission, where you become one long fortnightly saudade.


Gales of laughter rip through as us we fox away time.

With my foot in the door, I bury myself in busy snatches of air

where you tease me over the lure of peeling foil

before I scatter shards of pills under my tongue,

but not before drawing your face into the bough of my hands;

my fingers trumpeting urgency.


I do not trust myself to hear the lilt in your voice

or to feel your hands under my caul,

for there are sounds that tumble out of my mouth

like small hymns that run in time with your easy slouch

          best I learn how to pray


Meet me at the river where water

slips around our shadows like outposts of hope.

Stuck in the gullet of splitting winter winds

we are already a dirge of soupy stares and epistolary flesh

upon which I shall starve my curdling belly;

the biggest surprise being that you even remembered my name.

Carly-Jay Metcalfe

Carly-Jay Metcalfe is a Brisbane based writer of literary fiction, poetry and memoir. She is a passionate advocate for organ donation after becoming a double lung transplant recipient in 1998 due to Cystic Fibrosis, and is a death midwife and a secular hospital chaplain. More of Carly-Jay's work can be found at Bruises You Can Touch.

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