Two poems by Robyn Pickens • Empty Mirror

Ida / Ajna

My grandmother is a psychic channel / is an aquatic plant / is a lotus flower / is Padma / is the purple luminescence of the moon / is the seed syllable OM / is the supreme sound of the universe / is one of two white petals of the transparent lotus flower / is my third eye / Ida / Ajna /

Beyond the edible outer layer of fleshy fruit / budding inside the pericarp / Ida reaches for the white moon, six faces, six arms holding a book, a skull, a rosary, a drum / Ida is the left-hand white petal of the transparent lotus flower of my third eye / Ida shape-shifts from moon to skull, rosary to drum / she wears each of the six faces one by one / she inhales the precious book in her six arms / my grandmother is a psychic channel /

Ida, my girlfriend Emer tells me that lesbian iguanas lick each others’ third eyes / I ask Emer if she would let an iguana lick her third eye / she thinks for a moment… / remembers Iggy the iguana in Jafar Panahi’s film called “This is not a film” / remembers Iggy eating cheese near the balcony / Iggy climbing onto Jafar as he sits on the sofa / Iggy creeping up the wall behind shelves of Business Relationships / Yes! she says / so now I will be coming back as an iguana to lick her third eye /


The sea swilling in its own brine & foam is on one side—
coffins & candles on the other. Pass me through the pale blue columns

so I can examine the woodwork or strike a match. My plait is wet on my back
as I lie delivered face down on the planks. You kept a scrap of fabric around you—

your knees press into my crown. Beneath a yellow sky there are so many hands
reaching. I hear the slap of the sea, feel its brine in my plait & see the knotty wood

that made this coffin. You light the candle, rip your orange dress—
the one with orchids rising lithe like snakes—& wipe the stain of the sea

from my back. My long plait is a slender dog tied to my waist. I want to chop it off,
& stop the pincer machine in my gut. This candle is everything. I would not trade it

for all the lobsters or prayer mats. The sea is a field of flames—we cover our eyes—
but the reaching & the prone surround us, naked or streaked with once-clothes.

I can see the emperor in the fine china, & all the calligraphic lily pads, but no
concubines. This is not the weather for concubines. They will live as they choose.

Blankets (or robes) are scrunched around our shoulders concealing my slender dog
& the lithe orchids rising between us, this one orange tether I will keep—

however singed by salt, however tattered by the floatable sea. The candle splutters—
throwing meagre light on the reaching, the prone & the shrouded. I imagine them all

cupped in lily pads—but close to the pond’s edge—for whatever reason. They are
rinsed of salt, their hair is brushed, & there is no reaching or excessive floating.

The sun is in my eyes now & everyone is suffused with light & leaving & arrived.
We have been passed through & we are this glint, our stories this precious.

About Robyn Pickens

Robyn’s poetry has appeared in Into the Void, Peach Mag, SAND Berlin, Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, Matador Review, Jacket 2, at ARTSPACE, Auckland, and is forthcoming in a Carcanet anthology (March 2020). She was a finalist of the 2018 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize judged by Eileen Myles, winner of the takahē Monica Taylor Poetry Prize 2018, and a finalist of the inaugural Leeds Brotherton Poetry Prize 2019. Her manuscript was a finalist of the 2019 Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award.

Business Relationships Book