I am trying to love it, all of it, including the stomachaches and the scars that pucker on my legs. They say the world is poisoned but I feel like I just have to give it a go first, sample the arsenic-yellow paintbrush just to see if it might stain something bright. “That’ll be us,” my friend says when we pass a group of kids, picnic-lunched, sun-dizzy, at the local graveyard. I can’t tell which part he means: the picnic or the being-six-foot-deep-in-a-grave. He is an actor, not a poet, and doesn’t take kindly to being immortalised in a poem. His art is all glitter and stage lights and sweat. The moment all the sweeter for not being preserved. Verse erodes on the human tongue, and a tongue is nothing but a slab of meat ‒ which is to say, it will rot. But I just can’t help it. I want to taxidermy this crude human heart just so somebody down the line remembers how it felt. Oh, how it felt: too much, too much, always bursting with clotty red blood. There’s nothing in a graveyard that you can’t find somewhere in the gristle of a human. And nothing clawing in my mind that can’t be stopped by the sight of a wild sparrow-chewed blackberry, a window glowing golden at night, two friends trying on a silly hat. I keep them like sweets under my tongue, and when, as all flesh does, it rots ‒ there’ll be sugar spilling out into the grass.
Cadence Chung is a poet, student, and musician currently studying at the New Zealand School of Music. Her original musical In Blind Faith premiered at BATS Theatre in August 2022, and her debut poetry book anomalia was published by We Are Babies Press in April 2022. Her poetry takes inspiration from Tumblr text posts, antique stores, and dead poets.