The See-Through Friend

I met a man who said,
you drive me crazy,
and I made of him
a real God, fleshy, not in the subjunctive.

I messaged Him, I’m free until 1:30 p.m,
and He replied at 1:29 p.m, telling me to
come now or not at all—
knowing I liked the slim gaps best, the parts that
were as needles to pass through.

When I arrived, I undressed carefully before His eyes,
lacquered in false calm, having rushed the whole way
there. We floated separately in His backyard
swimming pool, Him pushing water with His hands
and talking, talking like He’d never held
a dialogue. I lay back and studied the vaulted
sky, a scarlet robin in flight. He spoke of
His plans for His garden, how He wanted cuttings
from my bougainvillea bush, and—
would I like some hanging bottlebrush in exchange?
None of these things were awful euphemisms
because He was innocent as
the milk-eyed moon, watching all and
seeing nothing, especially not me, almost naked
floating past His arms, His feet. An arborist, and
a narcissist perhaps—in the blameless way of
an only child or a Hollywood star—but nothing worse.

Briefly, I closed my eyes and sank my head under
the water, feeling silence move across my neck, my lips.
Then I rose from the pool, told God I needed to leave.
I walked across His jarrah floorboards without a towel.
We have no chemistry, I said. I’m not attracted to you.
He looked down at His body—golden with
self-belief and all that time in His garden—
breathing fast as if struck by a blunt object.

You drive me crazy, He said again and
pressed Himself against my cold skin.
For a moment I let Him do as He pleased,
this impossible God. He lifted my hair
from the nape of my neck, twisting it
so that I was contorted, forced to breathe in the vapour
rising off His shoulders, salt and chlorine all along
my cheek. I have to pick my son up now.
He will be waiting for me, I said, moving away as
glass from His hand, walking barefoot across
His perfect grass. He let it happen then—let me
leave, even opening my car door, suddenly courteous.
As He did, a red balloon my son kept
like a see-through friend
floated free of the car, in a hurry
to some better place, exhaling
far

            away. At the school gates, my son stood
alone, sharp-eyed as a rock
under whitewash. He studied the empty
space where his balloon had been. The night before,
he had drawn two irregular eyes on the balloon,
and a wide smile, the sort you make
when staggering off a rollercoaster, asking
to go for a second time, a third time, and again
just one more ride, please, Mummy
miraculous to be so free, a small
god rising red-cheeked
into the sky—

and all the world below you
hanging by a thread.

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