Kate Middleton is a Melbourne writer and composer. Her work has appeared in Australian newspapers and journals including The Age, Heat, Meanjin, Nocturnal Submissions and Voiceworks.

I dreamed you

I dreamed you twice, recently:
the first time you came near me
when I was painting; some clever shape-
shifting and my self portrait suggested the very tilt
of your head, curve of your teeth, sharp
of your (now obsolete) eyes.

Next, I saw you as
a glassblower, carefully molding me
in pastel pinks. Laughing with menacing
tenderness, you fashioned my little swells
with loving near-sight, but failed to cry
when, shattered, my shards pierced your eye.

(You see, now, how we are
merged in this manner, and yet I
suppose the details are unimportant.)

Bluebeard’s Widow

I find myself
           upon the
                      stair –
yet it is his heavy
                           tread I hear.
And in his bloody
(I still hang out the sign:


               eventually every bed
runs scarlet,
                   then cakes dry.

Scheherezade Singing

The Romantics stole it from me, that game
of ever eluding the cadence, that Wagnerian
flick of the wrist. I knew how to delay release,
to taunt them, centuries before. Legends
of my performance still circulate,
but no notation does it justice. No-one
could get down that swing between the spoken
and the sprechgesang – but even so,
memories short as they are, no diva
mesmerised like me until the days
of celluloid. Now with a pouting kiss
at the camera, that extra inch of leg,
each five-minute starlet for a moment
eclipses all the histories. But none share
the dolce or doloroso of my voice:
they cannot match the intricate weaving
of my tales. And none evade that fatal
chop – none so skillfully as I.

The cats

Skull-smashed and stunned, the cats
you let stay are breeding wilder, and dying
more violently without you. Jerking
their way between water tanks, there is nothing
to tame them. The guns inside
now lie ready-loaded under beds, the scum
is never washed away, and your marriage
bed creaks dangerously under the weight
of your absence. The cats drop, and
the stink of their dying hangs sharply suspended
over the stench of your own sudden death.