Melbourne, Winter 2018

of a fingerprint
of a snowflake
this one of a kind
form whispered into being
You: made up of crisscrossed wefts of
fine fabric spun
magicked from fairy dust
blessed with tears
this creature half real
half spirit of longing
my own Pygmalion
And yet
the purple distance
stretching between us
a marathon of fumbled choices
bedfellows wrong and wronged
I want a splinter in the road
fish dropping from the sky
carpet of golden locusts
a miracle of happenstance
to bring you here.


Could it be? Could this be the night when that Pulp song that always plays in my head before these random encounters actually become a winsome reality? Could something change? Did I even believe in Jarvis Cocker waxing lyrical about there being someone up above with a timetable directing acts of love? Once again I was investing hope in Serendipity, the beautiful and merciful handmaiden of fate, to engineer a collision of paths between strangers.

I could have stayed home and gone to bed/ I could have gone to see a film instead. I could have changed my mind and seen my friends. But I wanted something to change so it was yet another job interview-style date. Like many others before him, I’d already cursorily vetted his overall character online; the reason we were meeting at all was because he’d passed the crucial spelling and grammar test. Here, now, tete-a-tete, my professional critic coolly assessed the situation. Physically he was not my type: too tall, too fair, too thin, too clean cut: the very epitome of the preppy English public schoolboy. All he needed really was a striped blazer and a pair of oars. And yet, there we were, on Degraves Street, that tourist-drawing Melburnian CBD Mecca to caffeine and black-on-black uniform. We sat under one of those tall pillars that emitted heat, the tea-light candles valiantly flickering in the cool breeze, our faces softly contoured and lit, and with the murmurings of chatter from other tables around us, our own conversation flowed smoothly, a stream without pebbles to impede the course. Was the hour-and-a-half we shared between small talk, sips of water and coffee the start of something? When we both woke up that morning, did either of us consider that maybe, perhaps, in a matter of hours we’d change the way we were going? Had indeed something changed?


Poem published in Turbulence by Thuy On.

Thuy is a freelance literary journalist, critic and editor whose work has appeared in various publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Book Review and Books+Publishing. For the last six years she has also been the Books editor of The Big Issue. Her collection, Turbulence, was published in early 2020 by UWA Publishing.