Jacinta Aboukhater



pron. syme: a system of flowering in which the first axis bears a single terminal flower which develops first, the inflorescence being continued by secondary, tertiary and other axes; from the Latin cyma, to sprout; from the Greek kyma—something swollen, a wave, sprout



I would say I remember
it is not a dream

the sun was inside my skin
the warmth of the sun

fell into me
grass was ancient cloth

bees sang into ears

prayer of fertility
I swore to this

on this day
a child’s dress,

forgotten hair.
what did I swear against

that I made this pledge
so pungently

it stirs in me now



the children chase the glinting air
swift with bubbles
such opulence!
mouths blowing miracles which flee

the children spill stolen oils
on their bodies and curl,
like little gods,
in the water which laps at their skin

you know how many flowers
I have brought for you,
not to deny despair but to root
a stubbornness for beauty



time is a spiral
mapping me here

the present is a word
whose fierce transformation

measures me here
no words forgotten

though the names clot
behind history

the tongue split
in so many directions

I could not be understood
or trusted



the eye which saw and burned
when all was silent:

no memory


birth? not this
though its knowledge

knots in me,
the snap of being

before lungs
broke into breath



in the sea's
green clarity
clear to my skin,
and salted

I tumble,
like a fish
dripping sun

I stand on my hands,

praising sand

like a child
of questions




spewed into light
first spawn of your womb

I was tumultuous
and named

on the suck of you,
so I named you

did I imagine once
the gnaw of my cry

burn you through
when you held me

n the helpless hands
of mother?



and were you there
later, to gather me

from light's play
to uncurl fingers

sullied by rage
I did not know it



the worms eat
into the silence

the poisonous moults
have hatched

and hatched their own.
I've outgrown this divining

searching the breach
for what is murky:

curse and promise:
the cocoon, fat

and probably dead,
in still water



the snake flew,
bitten into two

by your axe.
and five small faces

upturned, like scared moons
and blinding the smell

of death, the jasmine
strangling the outhouse

where the snake flew,
immobile now

as memory’s myth:
the wife who did it

(you did)
on your own



you must bear the child dead.
its eyes already lidded
to nothingness
fingers shaped to a bone.

the air
will not move
the silence
is a hot night waiting,
the storm will not come
though the limbs pull themselves
alive to a perfection
and the skin, whiter now
finished as a month-shot moon
still pulses its blue
and ancient love for you




sweet daughter,
diminutive one

by the passage of myself
you were born

this place
of blood and moans

and squatting
bore you

like a miracle
because I was singing



when you have gone, as you will be
child ruling the stars
and this faint day is my conjuring
I will hear you with fidelity

I have seen your small limbs dancing
with nature’s choreography
and the jolt of fears was my making
as you lullabied me

I have known your breath of sleep
your small god’s uncensored dreams
as these words are my remembering
I conjure your lyric, again for me



later, the children will quieten.
and the clear silence culled
at the feet of their laughter
will lower into rooms
where darker children dream:
of marbles splashing
against ashen floors, and dolls
vagrant, their clotted hair
and unicorns, slinking
in the brunt of dawn



once I sparkled
in the arms of the waterfall
for its effervescence
not solid
yet insistent

but what is this
we hold in hands
quiet as stone?



every moment gathered:
hands held to nothing
but the ash of touch
the fledgling word, fleeing:
its slow assent to night

your body
of blackness
by blackness




for you I thank all the gods
in their breasted and cocked glory:
this is a high song
from the altar of thighs,
where tongues lose themselves
and find themselves in water

how can paradise be lost
when within your palm’s
rough embrace, I bloom
and the apple ripens
on the branch again,
for the clear fetching



the fleck of moments
that bred to this,
the brute journey
almost complete

how always
I have named love
at the verge
of fear’s oldest moment

lured it
into a warmth
simply, a nest of arms
cradling me back

to origin.
where another breathed for me.
so I slept again,
and waited

now the masts sway
and fall from me
leaving me to weight


under my weight
I crawl
through the ancient lip

of severance



I eat apples

I eat the breasts of them
the bridal core of them
the hovering trace
of the guzzling bee

I thank the bee

I eat the rain in them
all the moods of rain
the pink travelling kiss
of the petals clamoring

I eat the crystals
clinging, the flesh
which parts like blood
its sweet sting

I eat the whole apple



the abandoned children cry
at the edge
of the camera.
my lips nest into yours

I am just starting.
an unseasonal bloom
rooting deep
its dry, unbreakable lessons



in the distant arms of the blossom tree
small flowers bloom,
and arrive

it is long that the fruit
and light take
to reach through woodenness

but since the moment you burst
from your own darkness,
you have waited




bloodily I came
risen on meat and bone

large hands stopped me.
the world stooped

and dug up wars, worms.
the children’s faces winced

before my cloak
my heavy lameness

I walked with a large
brutal stick

words, an arm raised
lovers hurtling to walls.

I could not understand my strength.
I was simply asking to speak



how shall I meet you,
oldest intimate?

I shall dance
slowly, one step



perhaps I saw you coming, distantly
from where the hills were green, distantly
across deserts and valleys, ravines and the vines of rivers

perhaps I saw you, distantly,
washing your father's hands
as they shrunk into death

I too held my father's hand
asking, how do I speak with your death
though for forty days he had already kept his silence

perhaps I saw you coming
with your sheer blue eye and generous mouth
kept through all my darkness


4 (gulls)

the white stampede of wings
burning the air
from where we watched

as if the blue gullet of sky
had gasped open
to a wild god

a scattering
bearing towards us

scalded by the eye
of such a clear god
we emerge from sand

trembling beak, beat
stung by daylight
you, skirting the dune

with its childish incline
a tremor of legs,
a pure pace



the oranges are
bitter, my love
though you dragged
that looted one
to your lips

like a wish.
a waiting, as if
its honey
the colour of sun
could blind us — us? —

our tongues
with a sweetness
that was bald,
that was not sweet


Bio: Jacinta lives in Melbourne with her husband and three daughters.  She has had poetry published in LINQ and in the anthologies Motherlode, Hot Type, Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology (ed. John Leonard 1998) and the forthcoming New Music: Contemporary Australian Poetry (ed. John Leonard, Five Islands Press 2001)

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