This was my debut publication, 2007 in Pulp. I was 21, still at University wrestling with the page. It’s neat to revisit the work as German media find their way to my home on Symonds St for an interview, as part of NZ being the Guest of Honour for the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. I’m still wrestling with the page.
Love in the diamond light of far flung stars looks like this: a man and his prize, a woman and her champion, Ponsonby hope-smoke in the tousled hair of both. Still burning off incense sticks and the fucking fantastic ruby embers keep flaking down into the oblivion beside the love nest, the timber floored love nest, the grey-white walled love nest.
“Call me Milla and don’t treat me like a garden.’
If his body is a city, see me perched (a bird) above the rage, cream feathered on some tower, building, floors above the ground. The victor thinks (says) I am a town, thick with shacks where thoughts live married and bred to themselves ‘even in the yards where flowers should be, the children of your thoughts flitter and quiver in the wind. All of them honey-haired.’
I talk about everything, my girlhood and the since gathered organ-hearts (in my purse, come look at them beating, listen) the way the colour blue inspires happiness, angles to look at a woman, how to read rain out of a clear sky.
Everything. ‘I’m in pursuit of distance, but I can’t get that here, not in Auckland. Everywhere are bodies, words that leave my mouth come back the next day open and purple bled. In the city we feed off each other’s truths, it’s fucking sick but fucking human.’
He wonders about me. What a wonder I am. And how did he get this? Win this? These bunched up moments where limbs appear entwined appear rainbow struck in the silver glass at the bed’s end. The mirror is draped with saris and photos of friends I loved, the victor mentions fate and how did he get this, me? The all of me unravelled in linen, and do I know how I look in this light? How beautiful my face is against the ugliness of the world, all of it, the wish-eating all of it, do I know?
This house sits too close to the street and the plants behind the fence have grown over and onto the footpath, the lane is jasmine stunk and rubbish frilled. The sky above the lane is a blueberry tart with her tits out (often). It doesn’t look like love; you can’t walk past the rusting strawberry paint and feel love. Strangers despair, moving around the weeds and the desperate lavender bush. They peer in through the bay window to the corner room where my life lives and the victor sleeps. Then I want to say ‘here is where love is made and destroyed. I test the waters, I check the levels, I separate design from function…’
Jamaica churns out men with satin skin, under your fingers, between your thighs and their necks stink of justice. You can take a beautiful Jamaican man to the top of Mt Eden and he might cry, talk about names for girls. I sat there once, edge of the grassy summit holding hand’s with a minister’s son, eyes to the sky he told me ‘now that we know the people we really are, seeing as there’s nothing left to become, these clouds are the only thing above us because love is god.’
He treated me like a garden, I was expected me to flower, wilt, regroup and produce golden felled leaves. Holding me at the elbows like a frail mistake of nature, the beautiful Jamaican man steered me through my own city, commanding shadows to move around us.
The victor (now) has won (for now). And this is how the city trains its young: to live not on the edge but at the fore of the horizon plucking man from men, woman from women, petals from flowers. With the sun in your eyes you can take what you like.