Sholeh Johnston

The train rattles along like a bag of spanners beneath us; it chugs through the sole of my shoe and ends its route somewhere
near a cochlea. It is forever ending. Blind to noise, we take tea together, while teacups rain from the heavy sky,
and litter the ground; shattered polygons lying grey against the sand. “Where
do we end?” you ask
counting dis-
located fingers (we have only just begun, curving around and into our continuous “o”).
I watch you pull each one from the socket: one, snap, two, snap;
your eyes, wide open, collect dust
blue irises fade to musk and I could drink the milky white of your eyeballs—
three, snap
four, snap
Salt collects in the corners of my elongated mouth as I
gag, gag, gag, gag, gag
gloves on my leathered skin hands of a minotaur leading my deaf eyes ‘round
each corner,
jerking muscles beneath my touch,
hoof in my hand,
horn in my hair,
china underfoot.
You leave me by a pool, yellow water, rippling red: my reflection
emerging to meet me.
It’s been a while.

We are glued, my self and me I rise from the water
and watch my habitat evolve: the serpent and the lizard making love,
and buffalo
chasing the call of a distant whale through the setting sky.
The reptiles interest me most. They want to break
apart and resign to genetic dictatorship, yet
they cannot resist: the serpent coiled
around the lizard’s scaly
back, thrusting and writhing, tongues
flicking in and out with pleasure.
They are too immersed in their reptilian tantra, oblivious
to the quicksand gradually consuming their rapt forms.
The plain unfolds itself to me and on the mountain’s tail I am met by a withered virgin,
feet bleeding at the end of cankered ankles (the Ram
and the Virgin,
each a grotesque
image of the other, mirrored mouths open in silent scream, forever forward, forward, don’t
Bones emerge from beneath my skin.
I bleed to the river, misting what we know and what we will know, cracking
cups, sipping the entrails of an oyster shell, piercing
our eyes with darts, crying and laughing as we dance back-to-
back through shifting spotlights, catalysts for our neon pricked-through pores
fade to black: how
could we have managed all of this?
This reality blurs in disbelief as we open our eyes to the sharp sunlight.