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Knots that can’t be undone | Quinn Eades

On the fourth day in Reykjavik

my palms start to itch.

I walk to the Harpa, a square

glassed building next to the water,

and pull my jacket’s hood over my head.

Ear ache threatens to come

because I have flown for 35 hours

to walk across the top of the world

to sit in a conference

to listen to six sunlit nights

— In an overpriced restaurant an American says

— Oh you’re from Melbourne

— From Down Under

— And I say yes but why under, doesn’t it depend where you’re standing?

To walk across a country under siege from tourists

who stagger and drink and shop unrelentingly

— There is a penis museum here where you can buy keyrings and cups

— There is a coffee shop that grinds its beans in the middle of us all

— They play Leonard Cohen LPs

— Everywhere has a coat rack

At the top of the world in endless light

teenagers do night things but we can see them

cats walk haunches up on the hunt

a taxi driver tells me crime is low

The conference goes like this:

(Bataille, formlessness, the universe like spider, or spit.

What is worth writing about?

The lie of ‘realness’, gaps, silences, slippages.

Wayne Koestenbaum in defence of nuance,

the lover who wants to escape the prison of discourse.

Glaze, the aroma that the message leaves behind.

Refusing to articulate the frame.

Rope games. Knots that can’t be undone.

Made with fishing line or fine cotton.

Once tied, the knot stays.

He says in his smoothing New York voice that we leave

the tether of the frame in search of the principles of the frame.

In a broken flash I am both frame and tether,

the tight and tiny cotton knot, fishing line strung

always with give, between two poles,

learning how to sleep under a midnight sun.)

A reading, a book launch, two panels

are done, and my ears know now that they are allowed

to ache.


The wounded eye.


A haunting.

Snow in the distance.

A steel Viking ship

struck at the edge of the water,

a cement disk.

Tourists in red and blue puffy jackets

climb and pose and take photos

grinning for their future selves

and facebook and instagram

(how many likes?).

I walk past the steel ship skeleton

and squint one eye

so I can see it without people,

without puffy jackets

and thumbs up.

A three second glimpse

of slick surface,

the Viking call,

this frozen rising ocean, mountains

a finger-width away, an orange

lighthouse behind me, an ear

that aches, and hears half

of everything.

Quinn Eades is a researcher, writer, and award-winning poet whose work lies at the nexus of trans, queer and feminist theories of the body, autobiography, and philosophy. Eades is published nationally and internationally, and is the author of all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, and Rallying. He is the winner of the 2017 Arts Queensland XYZ Award for Innovation in Spoken Word, and is currently working on a book-length collection of fragments and related theatre show written from the transitioning body, titled Transpositions.

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