To be consumed in something rather than by it

By Autumn Royal

30 September, 2021

Autumn Royal is Running Dog’s poet in residence for September and October 2021.

Each month, a poet produces new work, which is distributed via Running Dog’s monthly newsletter—Stray. If you haven’t already, sign up to our newsletter.

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Listen to Autumn read this poem.



‘a moment’s unrecoverable banishment of self’ — Evelyn Lau


In whatever era this finds you, I am out of my depth — regardless 

of this mode, the more I say I write poetry, the less I express it, and so

into a container of salted water, I saturate my pages for tomorrow’s absence.

Inside the mist of living without death there is the accumulation

of living with death and the lure of drama, barbed assumptions, the only

way it goes — is drama. Natural versus man-made injuries — as if tragedy

allows for transferable roles and the glorious thrill of gorging

on the banquet that is your own body. No one has ever wanted to consume

me like this, and one must be composed when both guest and host. 

Heritage-listed façades in the foreground, assemblies in the background.

The common areas of the complex, in order of appearance — the entrance, 

the hallways, several outdoor-facing windows, and the laundry. Letters

to outline measures of permitted distances — as if adoration could be restricted. 

My account allows for building poems, not a house. Wipe a finger along

the dusty plaster of a wall and rub the powder over your eyelids. If possible — 

leave your home during allocated hours — blink as a reminder 

you may still own secrets and must harness the gift to lie. A circulated memo 

updates the limits of imagination before it falls into predictability

or magical thinking. I am cushioned in pursuing experiences from written

scripts as you ache in a pre-arranged room for a statement to be recorded

after the accident — your mouth craving for water and space for slippage. 

The fever of the scene heats, like love, endless love, rumoured to be as expected 

as flesh and since there were no physical injuries after the collision you must form 

and sustain a narrative, a statement for insurance. I sit and visualise the rising,

the falling of your chest, my cruelty heaves as I relate such undulations to thoughts.