Nightshades in my Garden by Nevo Zisin

A mid shot of a person wearing a light pink shirt with the queer written on it, with cream overalls hanging off one shoulder. They have a necklace on, one long drop earring and have blue and pink lines smudged up their cheekbones. They are holding a rainbow flag and standing infront of a yellow background.
If you would prefer to listen the essay, you can do so here.

In Thornbury
I walk the merri creek trail
Cobwebbed in litter
The swing in my favourite part
I later learn
was built by
my close friend
‘I didn’t know’
I whispered, teary into her shoulder
watched it fray
then it was gone
daydreamed in lockdown about the day
we’d rebuild it
I am gay in front of the gold-plated Russian cathedral
I am trans in every crevice
cycling st. george’s bike path
noticing men overtake me
I wonder
if this is male entitlement
capitalist stress
or my overthinking brain
wonder if I am misgendered
when I am overtaking
I am over taking
playing music through a speaker
in my drink bottle holder
local bands I heard at the gaso
the tote
hoping someone will hear them one day
and say
‘Is that Huntly?’
‘Kira Puru?’
‘Electric Fields?’
we will tell this story to our children
on the Merri Creek
then I turn the music down
worry I am being too loud

In Thornbury
I learnt heartbreak like early-morning
garbage truck crushing
walked the streets with dustpan-in-hand
brushing up remnants of myself everywhere
couldn’t quite put them together again
skimped on price with superglue
you should never skimp on price with superglue
I drank $10 bottles of vodka
Saved for a special occasion
that had gone partially frozen
not a good sign
I reminded myself not to become
wiped the dust off my chest
when I learnt how to breathe again
stopped checking number plates
of every black car

In Thornbury
I come from the taste of red wine and picnic snacks
dumpster dived passionfruit cups
groups of people lying supine
on tea-stained throws
I come from nightshades in my garden
who whisper stories of the fairies
I built homes for as a child
I start building homes for them again
when I am 22
search for tiny succulents
to build cabbage patches for my nibling
noisy mynas gossiping on the fence
that leans like I do
when I have anxiety
but trying to play it cool
I come from hiding pets at house inspections
hoping you’ve done enough to impress them
A home we do not lock
But is haunted by housemates passed
in the form of hard rubbish down the side
we can never seem to get rid of
I come from mosh-pits of mallow
in the forests of my neighbours
the only landscape manicured is the golf course
we break into at night time
to watch the scorpio moon through binoculars
I learn to pay attention in Thornbury

In Thornbury
I run to an app on my phone
about zombies
that imagines a world rebuilt in apocalypse
hold my breath as I pass
strangers without a mask
imagine the farm
is the agricultural cultivation we have built
in our new village
I write books at Ceres
distracted by cute waiters on top of the hill
go to a café on high street
we joke is a lesbian separatist place
whose wifi password is g1rl_ p0w3r
I see my friends’ artwork on the wall
every life is as complicated as mine
I feel big and small
all at once

In Thornbury
we sit outside on our busted-up couch
watching salt shaker rain
beyond the plastic awning
we relight cigarettes
that go out too quickly
speak of moments that pass by
too fast
the rain’s swell intensifies
as little red embers dance on our jumpers
we pat them out hastily as we laugh
and I think of how many moments
like these
crafted in sharehouses
landlords know nothing about
from their ivory towers
they cannot feel the rain
I tease this thought
pulling at it with my teeth
like chewing gum that lost
its flavour
and realise how easy it is
to believe
I am the underdog
in my small queer sharehouse
on stolen land
I am as separate from this Country
as the landlords from the rain

Image by Proud Minority.