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Beach Beat (Public Acts of Indecency)

Beach Beat (Public Acts of Indecency)
Scott-Patrick Mitchell

If this were the 1950s, us gentlemen would be wearing yellow socks beneath pressed tweed pants, as if to say, silently, hey… i’m keen AF. But there is nothing gentle about the rough trade of anonymous transactions, how a body can take and give. Instead, we speak in bent knee. Hook thumbs into pockets. A nod that simultaneously says s’up and hey and looking? and yes, i too am lonely. Vulpia myuros wags furry rat’s-tail with excitement. Later, handkerchiefs: a semiotics of cruising, speaking intent through colour. A red clenched fist. Jump fence into illicit space. Hear mental wires twang like the accent of a handsome stranger we’ll never meet. Beyond, waves: navy annals of intimacy. Us, a couple looking to add drama to our love. Public acts of indecency. How the great outdoors lay for us to explore.  Yellow throat of Romulea rosea, open. The teal zeal of a mouth, holding you.  Here, the plants want to thrive, are flattened by foot-fall over foot-fall. We ascend then turn right, down slope, left, around, under, through. Lead you on with the pulse of my blood. A throb. Acacia cyclops does not blink at our presence. In these dunes, Old Spice and brutes. Orange you glad I’m down for anything.  I can’t wait to undress you into my body. Spyridium globulosum will create a basket for the wet. Others have been here before: shrivelled skins of fish drowned in the shrubs, full of sea and men. Scattered brown leaves tongue the sand. You ask, in hushed trembling tone how I know this place. I explain that I discovered a mudmap in the archives, dotted lines curving the tracks to X marks the spot. This is partly a lie: the discovery took place after I had discovered this place. I unzip you: I am more deviant than anthropologist. Beside us, Phyllanthus changes names: gale-of-the-wind; leafflower; stonebreaker. We too adopt new identities: some of us pretend we are single, the indent on our ring finger a spectre, a spectator. We transform into tops, bottoms, otters, bears, wolves, lambs. I push you back on to the horizontal branch of a tree, a growth that has adapted to the performance of this space. It is at once limb, seat, saddle, sling. When you gasp, the birds sing louder. We are being watched: the scrub is the reader of our poem, a voyeur to these endless encounters. Knows the threat that such sin can beget. Purple swell of a piercing cutting through: I pull on it to make you come into the present. Templetonia retusa lifts a cocky tongue to lick the spit from the air between us. When the tectonic shifts lift and settle inside your hips, we laugh, redress in fumble. An old man enters the scene, expectant, and your blushed cheeks match the Corymbia ficifolia we parked beneath back through the dunes. We do not make eye contact. I take your hand, lead you over wire into the throng of the world moving on. Behind us, a photograph filled with the ghosts of a thousand hook-ups past.  In another poem, that old man is one of us.