Abstracting the Contract We Make With Ourselves

by Claire Albrecht

Your reflection atrophies like a Dali, like cheese dripping off toast 
in this wear-nothing weather that expects something of you.
If you could imagine, if that’s a thing we all can do still,
then imagine this— a house, zoom in to a boxy room, but the walls 
in the house are windows, and they’re all exploding, all the time.
A pulsing as they go, one by one, like a scale, only to reform
and refract each other’s breaking moments, rhythmic and cyclical.
Crash scattering like a quick exhale, like the “whoo whoo whoo”
of a woman in childbirth as she pumps the bones out of your hand,
you witness the fractious forming and unforming of anxious sublimity.

That’s the difference between a pinky swear and a handshake—
it’s the pressure, not the promise. Your sweat on mine, the sticky
date our fingerprints make in this psychosomatic social contract,
you hear the tiny tinkling screams of broken glass as it tightens.
In a stinking haze you hook and squeeze for pleasure, for security, for 
a second outside of yourself, and find an empty room. 


[Claire Albrecht is an Australian poet writing her PhD at the University of Newcastle. She was the 2019 Emerging Writers Festival fellow at the State Library of Victoria, and will be a resident at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, New Mexico in 2021. Claire will also be a Varuna “Writing Fire, Writing Drought” fellow later this year. Her debut chapbook pinky swear was published in 2018.]