We make out awkwardly on the bed.
And her shifting weight is a tide or the back of the bus.
Have you seen her lately?
Not since she moved out.
When we go to a costume party together she
wears a lycra body suit and duct tapes a dildo
to her crotch. It bumps against me in the darkness
like a bottle-nosed dolphin or a chair lift.
Outside the party she kisses me again, her
costume insistent. She has been dead for
two-and-a-half years. She lay down to sleep
at thirty-six and her heart failed. Like it
failed a test or failed a warrant or failed to
come in to work that day like everyone else.
My fingernail split down to the cuticle and
she climbed into my bed at dawn smelling
of chemicals and the last stand of the hospice.
She moved out on my birthday and I ripped
up the note she wrote. I ripped up the note
she left me that she wrote me, when she left.
LISTEN to ‘Ohio’ by Emma Barnes
Emma Barnes (Pākehā, they/them) lives in Aro Valley in Pōneke | Wellington. Their poetry has been published in journals including Landfall, Turbine | Kapohau, Cordite and Best New Zealand Poems (2008 and 2010). They are the author of the poetry collection I Am in Bed with You (Auckland University Press, 2021) and a co-editor of Out Here: An anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers from Aotearoa (AUP, 2021) alongside Chris Tse. When not focusing on poetry Emma spends time powerlifting and continuing an ongoing series of Instagram stories entitled: Moon.
A note about the poem for overseas readers: A warrant is short for a Warrant of Fitness, which is a regular examination a motor vehicle has to pass to be roadworthy.