Almanac Poetry: Annabelle – Tommy Mallet

 

 

Annabelle

 

Frogs fill an otherwise
silent soundscape
as the wife sleeps, and I troll

Annabelle,
a state, ocean, and decade gone.

 

Pretty,
introduced through
a crazy women
I would sometimes have desperate,
respectful sex with.

 

“I’ve got a new girlfriend. I want to
bring her around,” Tibbie gushed.
“For you to try out.”

 

****

The threesomes,
in my cabin,
on that remote mountainside,
were nice.

 

Flesh everywhere.

 

Gloriously imperfect.

 

Tibbie,
an ejaculator who had multiple
orgasms,
would exhaust and dehydrate herself.

 

Annabelle, the woman she was dating,
couldn’t cum.

 

****

 

Tibbie was an extrovert,
annoyingly harmless,
wasting all that happy energy on
conspiracy theories
about plane-laced clouds with
behaviour controlling crystals.

 

A woman past thirty,
balancing on the verge of
all her physical abuses and laziness
dragging her, and her body, down.

 

Smoking while watching
her lover sleep.

 

“Annabelle has an autistic child
she only sees sometimes,” she said.
“She’s a bit lost. I don’t think she’s
really into being gay.”

 

***

Tibbie’s home,
in the city, was sad.
A grown woman sharing with her Mum,
dividing the house
into her space and mine,
hiding what she could,
like surly schoolgirls.

 

“This is fun!” she bounced,
as we sat in her bedroom,
staring at walls.

 

***

Annabelle and I went
for a walk.
Passing a stump,
I held her fingers just right,
steering her onto it.

 

“Make a statement,” I asked.

 

A test, as you do.
“First thing into your head.”

 

Not hesitating, no questions,
or complaints,
no fretting about being put on the spot,
Annabelle simply smiled, dipping into a
beautiful curtsy;

“My left shoe has a hole.”

 

***

 

Nick ran his ute off one of the backtracks
near his home
while drink driving.

 

I liked his valley;
shallow but rolling,
full of long, dry grass.

 

Lots of room for the moon,
and to crash without notice.
For us and the moment
and lives to take their time.

 

Helping to pull it out,
I told him everything.

 

“What do you want from them, mate?”
he asked.

 

Such a good, simple question.

 

“To be saved, y’know?” I replied.

 

***

Beer in hand,
cruising back to Nick’s tin shed house,
I watched wind scratching that dead grass
just right,
everything lazy victories.
For every reason, for no reason.

 

For that moment.

 

Oh, I wanted to live in it,
its simplicity.

 

 

That fishbowl.

 

Then, on a rise with reception,
Annabelle rang.

 

***

 

Lost in still air,
scavenging deep valley logging tracks
for half dollar wages,
that passed easily through
mud and bloodied fingers,
sameness was wearing me down.

 

With nothing to spend my love on,
Annabelle often called, and flirted,
in a one-size-fits-all way.

 

In one-size-fits-all need,
I answered most times.

 

***

In a near dawn dark,
made timeless by a sole owl,
I asked Annabelle about her child.

 

She turned on the computer,
still naked,
its glow hugging her face
as she gently touched the screen

where his face

looked back at us.

 

A tear began to roll,
this heartache.

 

Yet she had no reason to be without him,
beyond drugs.

 

 

***

Dawn’s white frost was long gone
when
I left to woodcut after morning sex.

 

Returning,
with tired bones and dusk,
I found Tibbie still in bed, tuning shit comedies
on her laptop,
eating corn chips.

 

Fire unlit.

 

Lights not yet on.

 

I wanted to shout at her.
“Do!
Do, you fucking glorious slug!”

 

But it was just sex,
we owed each other nothing.

 

***

Spend your love.

 

Lie, fake, self delude,
spend it.

 

Spend it!

 

Cling to things,
hope.

 

Try and build a relationship around
their strengths,

the curve of a neck,
a moment,
an irrational happiness,

 

a statement, about a worn shoe,
given without hesitation,
freely,
on a stump.

 

****

 

The way they rambled,
the way they had nothing,
it didn’t take long to figure out
Tibbie and Annabelle were on ice.

 

Good moments peppered
between zero motivation
and the insane,
mysterious 3am walks
returned from,

 

slightly sweating.

 

***

Annabelle came to one of my farm jobs,
planting out Larry Fredrick’s back paddock,
killing willows,
making bush again.

 

The air was
still,
sunny,
as she bedded her head softly,
beside my bored dog,
in her beautiful floral dress,
picking perfectly at the smallest flowers,
as if time had stopped,

while I worked.

 

****

Tibbie was a free spirit.
Tibbie was not jealous at all.

 

“Hooray!” she smiled,

 

knowing she was happily forceful enough
to shoehorn back in,
if bored.

 

***

Annabelle would get impossibly wet,
but my inability to make her cum,
was an obstacle, for sure.

 

****

On a dusk
clouds dropped to about head height,
Annabelle called.
I was on a remote logging coupe,
filing my saw.

 

She had no car, of course.

 

Still covered in bush
I fetched her from the city.

 

“This is nice,” she said, getting in,
shoulders hunched,
otherwise quiet.

 

By the time we reached my mountain,
her feet were resting lazy
on the dash,
as she told me all.

 

***

After sex
Annabelle rambled
hour upon hour of rapidly
slewed words.

 

Bragging
about things she hadn’t done,
complaining excuses,
bragging again.

 

Without Tibbie’s forceful personality,
the breaks were off.

 

***

A cool change brought midnight with it,
solid clouds
lighting the cabin dark and silver in turn.
Creating lost hours.

 

Annabelle talked through every one.

 

I tried to wear it,
like weather,
moving about the cabin,
imagining intimacy,

moments,

checking in on a sentence or two,
checking out,
while cooking a random meal.

 

***

Annabelle bragged about her hard father,
living in an Outback opal mining town.

 

“You don’t know,” she boasted. “You wouldn’t understand.
Couldn’t.
Wouldn’t.
He chose to live nowhere, have nothing,
so he could focus on his craft.”

 

And in that
the hole in her shoe fell away.

 

***

“You had better shut up now,” I told Annabelle,
in a hard voice,

forceful enough that
for a moment she was a canvass,
still and unreadable.

 

I can do this, my thoughts lied.
Bluff. Bark sometimes.
Let the bullshit roll.

 

Not be alone.

 

“You couldn’t comprehend what he…” she continued.

 

“LOOK AROUND!” I shouted.

 

But Annabelle rambled on.

 

****

A year later,
leaving a tree arbouring job
at a small farm
on city’s edge,
I saw Annabelle getting into a car.

 

She looked my way, neck stretching,
full of hope,
seemed physically strong,
pretty again.

 

The idea of her was never an issue.

 

I wished her the best
without slowing down.

 

****

It was snowing when the phone call came.

 

I followed the doctor’s voice
out of the bush,
to Tibbie’s psychiatric ward.

 

“Why are you here?” the man asked.
“I’m a friend,” I told him. “She was hopeless and free,
but cares.”

 

He asked if I was her lover?

 

“No,” I told him. “But being hopeless
is no crime.”

 

***

There wasn’t much to the visiting room,
people seldom came.

 

Tibbie was smoking vapes.
Another woman had been zombified,
nurses politely steering her away.

 

A third patient walked up oozing
pent anger,
poking hard questions at me,
in brilliantly aggressive bursts.

 

“Sowhoareyou?”
“What’syourgame?”

 

The nurse, a strong, softly spoken man,
reasoned into her ear,
as they gently walked backwards,
fading away.

 

***

“Hello lover,” Tibbie cooed,
then crawled into my personal space,
via smug innuendo-filled smirks.

 

Everything was sex.

 

A falling bluff
as if the drugs hadn’t both blunted
and ballooned her,

as if we were once a couple.

 

As if her family cared.
As if she wasn’t half drowned.

 

I tried to peel her hands off,

and into mine.
The nurse tried.
Tibbie was having none of it.

 

“What’s the matter, honey?” she crooned.

 

***

Annabelle Facebooked me
years later.

 

I never thought of her as bad,
just falling.

 

So checked in, now and then,
as my wife and I continued our journeys,
while I built remote walking tracks,
through Tasmanian coastal cliffs
living in inlet towns,
to open roads,
and tropical heat,

and parenthood.

 

***

Annabelle takes selfies.
Posts 5-10 seconds videos of
herself, daily,
in rooms with nothing on the walls.

 

Tarted up
to drag queen levels,
giving duck lips in every frame.

 

Each month, each year,
her beauty fades.

 

The likes get fewer,
one, two, maybe three.
Reduced to a dealer,

a horny father figure with money,

a once friend.

 

Then reduced again.

 

She thrusts her chin out,
like Hollywood,
but gets more and more gaunt,
sickly.
Even Marilyn Monroe squints
can’t hide the haggard condition
of her eyes.

 

I want to yell,
“Woman! Save yourself!”

 

But, kid never in sight, she
just continues to glam
her way down.

 

***

Annabelle sent 5-10 second videos to me directly,
for a while.

 

of herself,
still thinking she’s a thing
of sex,
knowing fully well about my
wife and child.

 

I ignored every one,
but would probably still help,

if she asked.

 

***

Insomnia slowly eats at me,
but there are other strengths.

 

Our baby, now three, wakes crying
somewhere near dawn.

 

I get up from work and kill time at the desk,
to gently lift her from bed,
hug her in the dark,
cooing as I rub her back;
“Papa will take you to Momma, okay?”

 

She crumples into the grooves
of my shoulder
perfectly,
already asleep again,
before being delivered
to her mum.

 

I never thought my voice
could be so soft,
so full of love.

 

 

 

 

 

For more poetry from Tommy, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. DBalassone says

    Wow.

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    Tommy, you have surpassed yourself!

  3. John Butler says

    What they said.

    Hell of a piece.

  4. Nicole Kelly says

    Wow – that was a fabulous poem. Thank you for sharing.

  5. If this isn’t your best, Tommy, it is damn well right up there.
    Excellent observations.

  6. E.regnans says

    Tommy thank you.
    I read this on a Melbourne tram.
    You took me to places of quiet and wondering and to places of missing, of emptiness.

    I feel that your poem is the poem of a seeker.

  7. Frank Taylor says

    As above.
    Wow!
    Heck of a piece……….

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