States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Catholic Education’ by Kia Groom

Itch in the vein, the road hot still
from sun, an asphalt stream
bisecting unlit houses. Slip of an alley
cat through a spittle of starlight.

Last cigarette, the way Em curls
her yellow fingers into small mouthed
sweater sleeves.

Clock tower bites light through the empty
parking lot. Gates we broke apart last summer, same
time I lost the laces from the leather
punctures in my too-small shoes, loom.

I taste penance, mouth wanting ash-dry and Em
ribs through rails, ducks under gate chain. I become
the sum of all my touches.

Here, the darkened grotto.
Here, stone-eyed Mary with her marble palms.

Under the Virgin's feet, Em's hips like Hail Marys.
Under my itch the scratch I cannot trespass.

Hail last of the cheap champagne,
Hail damp hair,
Hail sprinkler cycles,
Hail the scent of sulfide.

Flash of cop lights from the hill's dark lip,
and Em's hands nudging the dawn
down the bed of the sky, asking

one strike more. Just one
more toll of the hollow bell, before we lattice

fingers, streak through the blistered night.

 

Kia Groom

Recording

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