By Melinda Smith
I see you, looking. You are breathing, a little
heavily. I see you, gazing, at the pooled shadow
in her collarbone; at her armpit, its intimate tuft.
You are licking your lips. You want to pluck her
like a flower, like the idea of a flower. Her slender
bicep, her serious mouth. She is practising her freestyle,
trying her power, trying her goggles on for size.
She will need them, to see through, under water.
Dangling above her, the glistening certainty
of what this is, what you think you are owed.
A black swallow, stiff-winged, inverted, inert.
You want to pluck her; vase her in glass crenellations;
trap most of her under water, til she sags and wilts,
til she blows. I watch you, watching her. I keep
watch. The room ghosts around me,
around the both of me, we are misting
and partially see-through. We make our own frame
with our elbows, our bones. We will ourselves solid,
angular, unpluckable, unplucked. I see through
the room, the frame, the place where the both of us
merge. She sees through the world under water. I see
This poem is in response to the photograph, 'Interior departures (17): Tracy, 1980’
by Ann Balla and forms part of the Shadow Catchers exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales 2020.