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"Bidets and such", "Hot but not heavy", "A binding not affected by moisture…" by Tara Willoughby

Bidets and such

Friends warn me, one of the hardest parts of

travelling overseas is the unusual toilet configurations.

To be prepared, I practice in the shower. I squat

over the drain and imagine

narrow streets with exotic smells.

Crossing oceans is perilous. The birds

look different, sound different, act different.

In Türkiye, I'm warned, the pipes are so narrow

toilet paper goes in a little bin lest it clog.

This is why bidets are so important.

I bend over under the stream of shower water.

My loves will fly across the world without

so much as a hotel booking. But for me, planning

is vital. Tomorrow I'll fill a backpack with UHT milks

and take the stairs up and down to teach my knees.

I read consumer warnings that airlines will increase the fares

if you search for a flight too frequently.

They put a price on preparedness

because it is so valuable. I sew a secret pocket

into my jeans to hide my secret second back up travel card.

I've read that, in Finland, people sit naked

in hot saunas. I think there is a nudist beach somewhere here

but first, maybe next month, I will try to visit a gym

and strip off my swimmers in the humid changeroom

and only hide in the cubicles a little.

Hot but not heavy

Hot showers give me acne, apparently.

The vloggers are unequivocal:

they're bad for the environment;

they probably cause cancer;

I'm growing mould on the bathroom walls;

and I just don't care.

Leon the Supermarket Lobster may have been

spared a toasty demise but

I want to be boiled.

I want that whistle scream, too high for

human hearing, when steamy worry

and stress escape my glowing red skin.

I want to submerge in bubbling brine.

No more scrabbling in the muck and mud

chewing on worms and my own shed skin.

No more being dragged aboard a

boat in Maine for a notch and a photo op and a fish.

No more sad green-gilled woman.

Passing through heat I become the ideal.

Astaxanthin makes me brilliant cherry red.

Boil me like a questionably immortal crustacean.

Boil me like Patrick Stewart in a bathtub.

Bump it up one more degree,

just boil me, baby.

A binding not affected by moisture or blood

Crying in a taxi

again. I think, maybe I'm

allergic to alcohol.

Or maybe just those chemicals

they put in wine. Preservatives. Most

adhesives require proper ventilation.

I’m so sensitive these days, my eyes

are so itchy. Or maybe

I'm just crying because I love you so

much you gorgeous babe, you

beautiful soul, you

friend of my heart.

Both our hearts are broken and

mended a thousand thousand times.

I’ve heard cyanoacrylate was invented

across the ocean in a wartime jungle

for closing wounds. It burns at the raw flesh,

and these fumes sting my watering eyes.

There we go, the cut is sealed.

The good news is,

you don't need to come back

to have any stitches removed,

but I'd like to see you again

in a fortnight

just to check on how it's healing.

And if you notice any heat, or

redness, or inflammation,

call me straight away.

We can try whiskey next time—I think maybe

I might be less allergic to spirits,

if I just drink it neat.

Tara Willoughby lives in Canberra with her spouse and their cockatiels, Pooface and Porridge. She has too many houseplants and years of education, and not nearly enough books. Her work has previously appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Cicerone Journal, The Bookends Review, Melbourne Culture Corner, and others.

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