for a jakarta microbiome

greenery overlapping in the poet’s back garden in Jakarta

Greenery overlapping in Khairani Barokka's back garden in Jakarta. Courtesy of poet.



because do calls this house an ecosystem

where straddling folioles tangle mighty-fisted

along a wire canopy he strung

above the brick-and-pot garden, and city fox

coming like a client for bananas they feed it sunny

and rats on rare occasion, ‘because this is an ecosystem’,

while i’d lie, wide-eyed for a tail out the window

and up there explosions of birdstrain, as though not far there isn’t

vast crackling chemical dust in convoys of exhaust

and here where industrious mosquitoes venture against

the pop! of electric tennis racket and worm eggs

are down-the-drained with soap and warm water

that comes from a tap (unlike when i was small,

and we were servants to boiling for safety,

enjoying waves of wait, billowing slower breaths into ease)

and there by your room the aloe row that mo

breaks open with reverence to soften her hair

and when i was small, when you were a baby,

we’d wait for baygon to be sprayed in each room

and would open the doors and sniff, no timer

and safe to come in when the chemsmell lifted,

but now an earthy dispelling of such things

for the humans, bracts inside who mold the way

the weight of the house and its inhabitants

all prayed for, making this green

a node of the world

Khairani Barokka is a Minang Javanese writer and artist, now based in London, whose work centers disability justice as anticolonial praxis. Her latest book is poetry collection Ultimatum Orangutan (Nine Arches Press), shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize.
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