by Anne Elvey
Keeping our distance April 2020 We are waking in a nightmare to the solitude of things that make solace of necessity. Our simple tact is tête-à-tête, a zoomed absence named containment, while we withhold a touch that livens – skin to skin. Our words reach to suffice skin – as our TVs show those nightmare coffins stacked – & we hold our grief as silence & make the best of home, in the absence of a body, with a piercing need for tact. There are moments in the onscreen when tact takes us to the threshold & skin answers with keys’ tap, to the absence of our friends. Kindness then contains our nightmare. It is companionship we make though flesh desires to enfold a tender hand. Though we hold back our embraces, our tact exceeds that ethic: Do not harm. We take our parts in solemn matter’s theory of our skin while we are waiting on the nightmare that gathers us in absence to build a better presence when armed conflict is withheld & the arsenal of nightmares is defused. There is tact for common good – for naming kin – when our stories make their meanings & take us past the absences of world. Then akin in our fragility we hold close, as if intact against the nightmare. Are we waking from the nightmare that makes contact with our absence as distance holds the compass of our kin?
Anne Elvey is author of On arrivals of breath (Poetica Christi 2019), White on White (Cordite Books 2018), Kin (Five Islands Press 2014) and This Flesh That You Know (Leaf Press 2015), and with Massimo D’Arcangelo and Helen Moore co-author of Intatto-Intact (La Vita Felice, 2017). She is editor of hope for whole: poets speak up to Adani (Rosslyn Avenue Productions, 2018), and managing editor of Plumwood Mountain journal. Anne lives on Boonwurrung Country in Seaford, Victoria. She holds honorary appointments at Monash University and University of Divinity, Melbourne.