both syllables

If bliss is in
the small things

maybe I should stop trying to live
as an artist

and go work in the Post Shop
or at some friendly trade
like answering the phone
or doing the hair of old ladies
Nine to five from Monday to Friday
The boss would call me Jan

At six o’clock I’d give the cat his Dine
Grill some chops or fish
Microwave some vegies or make a salad
After tea I’d watch whatever’s on
while I do the ironing
and sew a seam or two
On Wednesday evenings
I’d do sewing class
The teacher would call me Jan

One nice sunny Saturday
I’d go down to Bunnings
for a plain-packaged husband
Dave, for example

Half the mortgage repayments
Quiet reliable sex
Tight new washers
in every tap
I’d buy him sixpacks
of Target jocks
He’d call me Jan

On Friday nights we’d go out
for pizza or Chinese
with Dave’s mate Matt
and his wife Sue
‘How are ya Jan?’

Once a year
we’d tow our campervans
to Esperance or Kalbarri
Sue and I
would talk and swim
and do crosswords
while Dave and Matt fished
I’d sit on my beach towel
and look at the boats

On Saturdays I’d meet up
with Di and Kath from class
at a Dome cafe
for lunch and a chat
‘How’s things Jan?’

On the other hand

if I keep trying to live as an artist

one day at a book launch
I’ll get talking
to a thin man with a beautiful face
a liberal arts degree
and a job with Amnesty International

Sex with David
would be frequent, creative and loud
he’d write poems about it
I’d buy him guyfront trunks
in organic cotton

On Saturday afternoons David and I
would see a French film
at Luna on Essex
then we’d go dancing at Kulcha

Half the rent paid
Half the meals cooked

On Friday nights
we’d sit out the back
eating noodles and tofu
drinking cheap wine
talking about the history
of gender politics
with David’s friend Rashid
his partner Matthew
and whoever else
happened to be around

Our house would be full
of books and old couches
The taps would drip
and the doors would stick
At night the couches would be occupied
by cats and poets and asylum seekers

all of whom
would pronounce my name
to rhyme with ‘pet’
and try to tell me
what it means

(From lemon oil)