Memorandum of understanding

Understand that we will be working together / and this means / we do not have to like each other. / Understand that we have common goals / and aspirations, we have aspirations / most of all. / Understand, that in the end, / the unspoken is always spoken / and usually by someone not qualified to speak it. Understand, / the rhythm of this agreement is not always symmetric, / sometimes the drummer starts to lean / on one thigh, slowly sags to the side, / and as a result the song can sound like mud and honey. / Understand, that I love you. / Understand, that this doesn’t necessarily concern you. / Understand, that this is a bridging agreement, / just a placeholder / until the full programme of individual projects that need to occur to realise the full potential of the programme which addresses all the individual and specific concerns and develops a full and proper understanding of all the aforementioned concerns / is in place. Understand, / that there are no placeholders. Understand, / that between two placeholders is a river of uncertain places. / Understand, that the most interesting thing about the river / are the bridges that cross it. That bridges / always cross something. That bridges always burn. / That bridges can, and often are, / rebuilt. Understand, the gravity / of all this / and how I’m waving my arms about / to indicate the All of This. Understand, / the specific weight of at least / some of it. Understand, / the specific body is important. / Understand, that no one can really understand gravity, / it exists only on a piece of paper, / as in, like, an equation, / as in the things between the things / we can understand. Like a bridge. Or the complex science / that goes into a bridge. / Understand this. / This is a bridge, quite a long one. / Understand, that we should be wary of long bridges. / If we find ourselves seduced / by long bridges, we should strip off, / stand in front of the mirror, / squeeze all the wobbly bits. / I understand / that’s what you do when I’m not around. / From now on, let’s do that together, / let’s squeeze our secrets, / but only with one another. Let’s understand the wobbly bits and squeeze them. / Let’s be wobbly, let’s be squeezy. / Let’s remember what it felt like to be memorable. / Let’s stand under this understanding and marvel / at her structure, the curve of her thought-bearing hips / as she takes our concerns, / one by one, without complaint.

Photo by Grant Maiden

Bill Nelson lives in Wellington. He studied at the International Institute of Modern Letters where he was awarded the Biggs Family Prize in poetry. His first book of poetry, Memorandum of Understanding, was published in 2016.

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