Maria Zajkowski

The winner

After the crowds, in the empty stadium, with the little moon I am alone, circuiting the oval to look for change and a way out. My eyes brim with night and a southerly cleans my fringe. Above, stars skip on flagpole tops inviting me up, but I don’t dance, don’t even think it. Sleeveless, I steer myself away. The north sky nudges the hospital’s roof for souls, an affectionate Kowhai dotes over a lawn. I walk until the little moon is taken by a night bird — its beak, a dark hieroglyph, conducts me on. The hospital, magnificently silent, illuminates emergency. On the artesian lungs of its medicinal lawn my walk drains. I dock with the flowerbeds, dozy chrysanthemums stare; a thousand weird tongues out. To their student stalks I announce that life stains scarlet the infrared geography of this body and complications roving in shoals can now be seen nearing my heart.


You are determined and if you endure this campaign you will be rewarded. You will croon over cooking pots, hum to jars of beads and think of the wonder of having, of being safe. You will dream of a furious crowd and I will interrupt the dream waking myself in the night from some silent location. Your crowd is dying to run down my streets. We won’t know it at the time. We’ll link breaths and become warm forgetting. I will be in the gateway from yesterday through to tomorrow, pretending to hold up the arch and smooth my hands on the mortar. In your bed we are porous and magnetic. During waking hours you’ll appreciate fumbles and may make jokes about your decisions. Strain is always possible. Depression may hit your inner ear. Show me your neck in the right way and I will bite the effort out of it; you are able to enjoy such untechnical pleasures. On a walk we will bend to the same flower but lever ourselves out of its romance (or for a moment pretend to) and escort ourselves safely away to future mutual demand.

Maria Zajkowski lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has been published in Australia, New Zealand and online.

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