Why You Stopped Making Things (Lucy Dougan)

The Wallpaper

The wallpaper was a forest.
You had put it up with your father.
You let me into the new dappled world
behind your desk.
When you sat in front of it
you looked like something from a painting.
After a silence
you don’t like it
is all you said,
a statement,
not a question.
A simple statement
just like the paper forest
or that you loved your father
or that to your father
you were a boy in need of a forest.
It is so long ago now.
So long since you lived there.
So long since we were close
(as if we had both vanished into the well-laid depths
 of the wallpaper wood with no search party sent).
And I wish
as much as one might wish,
lost in the woods,
that I had slain
the ogre inside my skin
that did not say
your forest is beautiful,
but most of all
that it was naff
in a good way.
I was such a stupid girl
and yet there you sat
in your wood
with never a reprimand.
Down these bombed out years
I imagine you sitting there still.

Lover lover

When I cant see him
I think about my lover sleeping.
Once I thought I saw him
stretched out on the grass
by the river with his jumper
hiding his face.
I could tell by the undersides
of his arm flung up and his fingers
yet it could not have been him
because he was walking right next to me.
Walking next to me I forget I see him
and conclude it is possible he is outside everywhere.
For years he has been an inside proposition.
There is something about the way his hips
are a little large between my legs
and that when we kiss his lips and teeth
do not quite fit mine.
Even so I love these sharp mismatches,
and these bodies that could or should be him
lying all over the place.

Why You Stopped Making Things

Driving, you tell me
why it is
you stopped making things.
It was the terrible pressure,
you said, the terrible pressure
you felt that everything
must have significance,
and worse, significance for you
alone. You could not bear it.

I keep trying to look sideways at you and can’t.
I keep trying to feel the windscreen wipers
you have activated in my eyes so that my lashes
will clear the view.
Can I tell you
that your car suits the city,
that this rain suits the city,
that your car in the rain
suits the city?
I can’t tell what is now OK
to make something of
or not.


Lucy Dougan’s books include Memory Shell (5 Islands Press), White Clay (Giramondo), Meanderthals (Web del Sol) and The Guardians (Giramondo), and her prizes the Mary Gilmore Award, the Alec Bolton Award and short-listings for the 2015 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry and the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry. In 2016 The Guardians won the WA Premier’s Book Award for poetry. With Tim Dolin, she is co-editor of The Collected Poems of Fay Zwicky (UWAP, 2017).