Something Left Over

An animal tells you what it wants.

We bribe our dishonesty. We share
wine with the pot plants. There is always
something left over.

Our houses are like this:
a brace of curlew in muddy yard;
traffic cone tossed on the roof;
mould on the ceiling left from the flood.

On borewormed verandah
acquaintances dance,
a tableaux in the act of falling.

An animal wants what it tells you with touch.

We bribe jealousy in private. We share tea
with the undergrowth. Strangers
avoid smoking inside.

I heard someone
once told you the truth. There is always
time left on the microwave.

We are how many who did what
to whom on which
verandah ad infinitum.

You can bribe an animal’s loyalty.

We choose collapse
and unwind the time
that remains on roofs
over muddy yards.

We listen to curlews
who ask for the nightfall;
we haunt bedroom doors.
Our proof is a toothbrush
or an unrinsed mouth.

We eat breath in private
and quarrel with conscience.
We quarrel with conscience
and win.

We dance between pot plants
and pick fights with strangers.

We touch what we want. We begin
to unchoose. There is always
something left over:
the words we reserve
for our dogs; the words
we forget after birth.

Always something,
under skin or nail,
under breath on verandahs:
a tableaux of collapse into bed,

with a silence the dog
could detect like an earthquake
but always devours instead.

Zenobia Frost
Previously published in Voiceworks
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