Contemporary Australian Poetry.
Jazz Club by Meg Caddy
Newlywed by Nathanael O'Reilly
She can feel the frame beneath his shirt
the movement of muscle
firm as buckskin
and a quick pulse.
she lifts the thin cotton to find bones and white skin
and twinned above his nipple the tattoo of a hammer
and on the opposing breast a sickle.
she traces the lines with her forefinger.
I didn’t know what it meant when I got it, he says.
I was seventeen, dumb bastard.
So you’re not a Red, she says.
The reds wouldn’t have me,
I don’t work hard enough.
His eyelids, wrought in purple veinlets
the pink rivers of the Murray.
the lumps on his wrists,
round bone ends pressing up from inside
his skin like the head of an infant
pushing its way to the surface.
and on the floor,
the remnants of black steel coat his blue shirt
ash fine coal on his philtrum.
In the kitchen she hears Denise, Denise
and he’s talking
about phosphine coated steel
like she would know what that meant.
she washes the stains from navy sheets.
Late morning’s comma in the suburbs
when the quiet rumble of a car punctures
the silence, while her husband is at work
and what else is there but this? fragile nudity, faint motion
two silent watchers, pinwheeling
to the sound of tinny pop music, until
her body is thatched and clean.
she walks him to the door
and once again comes the whine of the angle grinder
but no human voice.
Rose Hartley is a writer and poet from the Adelaide Hills and the winner of the Axel Clark Memorial Prize for Poetry. In 2014 she was Emerging Writer in Residence at the SA Writers Centre, Poet in Residence at Manning Clark House in Canberra, and completed a residency at Varuna, The Writers’ House as part of Varuna’s Publisher Introduction Program for her first novel. Her short fiction has been published in Poetic Justice: Contemporary Australian Voices On Equality And Human Rights, and in 2013 she was runner up in Australian Poetry’s 457 Poetry Prize. She tweets as @theRosamond.