blackmail press 20
Josephine Rowe

Featured Artist Amanda Kemp
click on image to view more
of her outstanding works
Josephine Rowe lives in Melbourne, where she regularly performs both spoken word and music. Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published within Australia. 

What I know of doorways

Here, I am five years old or eight years old
or ten,

between my father

(wild; throwing punches and hard words and spit)

and my mother

(saying nothing, now,
the door-handle pressed into the small of her back).

My mother's body is soft and warm as sleep
as my father beats a hole
beside her head.

(Years later my mother slips through this hole.
The door is replaced so that I cannot follow).

Watching sheet-lightning
through a screen door
in Bairnsdale. I sit in the hallway and
lean forward when the sky turns

In the next room are relatives
I do not know.

Their children
stand back from the windows,
eat slowly,
are adequate.

They don't pretend
to like me.

My sister and I get up at dawn.
The back door creaks
so we open it slowly, by inches.
Everything is grey -
our faces and breath,
the house and hills.
We climb onto the roof,
staining the palms of our hands
and the soles of our feet
red with dust from the tiles.

We are waiting. I can't remember what for.

Shh! It's after three, my dad's asleep...
Thought you might like to go for a ride.
Dressed like this?
Yeah. If ya like.
You got another helmet then?

Three weeks without words,
longer without touch
and still, I find you everywhere -
in the clash of empty hangers in the wardrobe,
in my empty refrigerator,
and in the dregs of each empty bottle - those dead soldiers
lining my loungeroom,
like I am Scarlett O'Hara.

One night I come home late
to yellow light,
seeping round the edges of curtains
and through mottled door-glass.

I turn the key slowly
trying to think of something to say.
I open the door on an empty room
finding I've forgotten
to turn a light