I’d thought we would go up as those bright
inflatable men that ripple in car yards
jack-knifing from the waist, then up with the flags.
I’d thought we’d go up easy, actions lines coming out of us.
Now I know leaving will take more effort.
We blow up the air dancer by mouth
and just as he’s full enough to take up his rightful position,
we black out on the ground. Later, without fanfare
someone presses his ear to our torso
while someone else picks at the ancient knots in our laces
Out where the towels I’ve forgotten grow damp again
I see the dirt digging itself up
and becoming an animal. Wind shakes a tree
in greeting and a lone bucket empties itself
of seasonal debris before coming, hollow, to a close.
In the yellow window you are looking
for the source of the water in the fridge
and your hands grow numb as pegs in grass.
When I feel the scratch of towel-caught crickets
on my arms these things become diffuse again
as rain reversing into a driveway
I will wait for this to become less strange.
That I live in a small city and yet so often there are
six other Ashleigh Youngs in the database.
That I fall over the same lip of footpath
and my knees, ever opened, assume
an exasperated expression.
That the nights grow up too fast
That the joke is old and yet I still wake up
to find you putting your work boots on my feet.
Perhaps this is the day I will take your place. Yes, this is the day.
I still hope we’ll be huge and hilarious, rippling, up with the flags
our arms a stream of jelly snakes in the sky.
We will no longer have to come to terms with the fact
that we are probably just ordinary
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.