Float

I’m blue-cold when you reach me, skin pickled with floodwater, lips gently parted. Lids closed but eyes flickering. I can see your shifting shadow as if through fogged shower glass.

 

You haul me up onto your shoulder and push yourself slowly up the stairs. How could I possibly be this heavy when I feel like I’m floating?

 

You grunt. My gaze shifts lazily like I’m swimming softly in salt-slick ocean.

 

You grunt again and I watch as my wrist slams against the brick of the stairwell: feel it slide, feel the jolt of hand dislocate from arm. 

 

‘Fuck’s sake,’ I hear you say. I giggle but the sound I make is only an echo whistling in my head. Why can’t I move my tongue to make speech?

 

My neck bows and hitches, the weight of my head a turbulence as you heave through each step. My skull punches the banister and paint chips drift below like soap flakes into bath water. Then my skull yet again: a nose-first clang into glow-red extinguisher as you round the corner too quick.

 

By the end of the trip my body is cracked and swollen, my arm heavy like broken tree branch. But there’s no pain, just endless wonder at how much I can take and how little I care.

 

I hear the telltale creak of our apartment’s faucets. I hear water running and I wonder if you want to drown too. We could make a day of it, you and I. Wait for river to burst, and house to flux and fill. Just float away as muck and deluge.

 

The next thing I feel is warmth. And pain. I’m in water again, brown-tinged liquid swamping my purpled, aching skin.

 

I can feel. 

 

My wrist stings and my head throbs in time with the tap dripping into bath water. And blood water. Why is there so much blood?

 

Through my eyelid-fogged gaze I watch you approach with quiver-candle lit – your hands are shaking. 

 

You shuffle across the tiles on your knees and you’re so close I could touch you. But I can’t move. I can’t move to touch you.

 

My brain sparks with panic as you quaver-whisper in my ear, ‘A spell to part ghost from flesh.’

 

I breathe out.

 

Rae White is a non-binary transgender poet, writer and zinester. Their poetry collection Milk Teeth (UQP) won 2017  Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry. Rae’s short story ‘The Body Remembers’ won Second Prize in 2019 Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction. Their poem ‘what even r u?’ placed second in 2017 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Rae is the editor of #EnbyLife, a journal for non-binary and gender diverse creatives.

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