By Izzy Roberts-Orr
With artwork by Marla Celeste
the line on the map is a kind of lavender colour
there’s this guy on the metro, rolling his eyes
like back in his head, like he could be dead
any minute now
and he’s swaying, he’s swaying like
he wants to fuck this train from the inside
or at least romance it
the same words scrawling out of his mouth
sliding over the lino floor in waves
saying something that my tired brain translates as
girls the sluts the shit the death
over and over and over again
air // strip // perimeter
There’s a gang of trees standing naked outside the airstrip perimeter. The other trees stare from behind their lush greenery, foliage twitching, twigs snapping and crackling. They’re putting the forest to shame by holding their shivering grey bodies so close to the fence for everyone to see. I find myself hoping they’ll shimmy, or do whatever the tree version of twerking is up against the fence, shaking it for the incoming flights. Flaunting it because why the hell not? These trees could flaunt their nakedness aggressively at all the jet-lagged eyes staring puffy and vacant out of little porthole windows. They’re still trees no matter what they look like – they’re just as much tree as their prudent leaf-sheathed cousins – and trees can pretty much do whatever they goddamn please. It won’t stop people cutting them down, so they may as well strut past this fence and say, ‘fuck you, I’m beautiful!’ to all the other judgmental trees and then chest-bump and co-ordinate a dance like a 90s girl band or start a rap collective or whatever. I don’t know. This gang of trees standing naked next to the airstrip perimeter – I have no doubt they could be or do or say whatever they wanted. I know they could make it happen. That they’d do it really well, no matter what the other green-eyed trees say.
I took the greenery to heart and the rest of me grew over
I emerge from the rainforest sweating,
resplendent, overflowing with new growth
blending into the ferns.
Water spilling over my face
clots my throat with the memory
of me just a gorgeous shell
filled with sex and washing powder.
My hand on the burner in our kitchen –
it didn’t do anything.
All magnets and chrome
no actual fire
no real burn.
Burning through undergrowth now,
cicadas scream in my ears
that you will never know how far
I can hike without stopping.
How much I love the smell of decaying leaves
and wet dirt.
My irises are not bleached or calloused
I can still look with wonder as raw
as the grazes I still have on these knees.
I stared down two dingoes alone
at ten years old
in the middle of the desert.
You have to know when to put a fire out
as well as start it.
You have to have more
than kindling and green leaves.
Feet crunch into earth, sun blaring
you will never know what I am capable of
where I have mapped this country
where I have yet to go
because you never asked
just slapped the backs of my knees
to see if I would flinch.
Izzy Roberts-Orr is a writer, editor and radio producer based in Melbourne.
Her work has been published in The Lifted Brow: Digital, Feminartsy, Co:Respond, ATYP’s Out of Place Anthology and the RMIT Volta Creative Writing Anthology.Her work has been performed in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paris. She is currently producing work commissioned through the Melbourne Fringe Uncommon Places project, and was awarded a 2015 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship. She tweets @izasmiz.