The galah and the goldfinch.
These trees but not the grasses.
History, with its lashing tail.
Obligation, passed into my hand like a stone.
My grandfather’s bible. Your mother’s pearls.
The rounded rocks lying quiet in the creek.
What will we pass on?
Only the fire can say.
Published at Cordite Poetry Review
I don’t recall what final unfairness
made me pack to run away, whether it was
fall or spring. Either matched my haste.
Everything I needed fit into a pillowcase.
I had read about hobos, stuffed bandanas
on a stick, jackets lined with grass for warmth.
I knew what I was doing. My cousin
had taught me how to whistle.
I was crying, though; I remember that.
It’s so much harder to cry now
unless I see someone dear overwhelmed,
especially a man. I suffer a diminished
capacity to drag a dirty pillowcase
through a ditch. At the border, staring toward
the railroad tracks, into the immensity,
my mother found me and ordered me back
to the house. A little relieved, I obeyed.
I’ve always come home, or
wanted to. I’ve always been easy to convince,
given the least kindness.
We wrap inside each other, all legs and arms
and lips, skin that burns at the touch, her hand
on my chest, my hand beneath the blankets.
She opens her eyes and we speak without tongues,
a tribute to the warmth of breath, and outside
the sirens wail again. They killed the boy only
a few hours from here. It took only two seconds.
Tonight, we wrap inside each other and remember
why we don’t have children. Her pink hands
carving sentences into my back, my freckled ears
against her chest, dancing with her heartbeat.
Last week, the cop who stopped me as I walked
to work, his hand ready at his hip, telling me
to take it easy. It’s winter and I’ve yet to lose
my tan but he’s always too far to see. He’s here
in the bedroom, him and the boy, as we try
to drown out the sirens with our bodies,
our eyes and hair loaded with snow. I could dare
a barrel into a staring match but it only takes
two seconds to kill a boy. Faster than the sound
of cicadas. We refuse the bruises of blood,
we want to honor the thrust of history, the trust
inside each splitting cell, so we wrap ourselves
within each other, away from the constant sirens.
We fumble our flesh, our mouths wide enough
to swallow the world. I trace myself along her belly,
grateful for its emptiness. Selfishness is a sin
we can live with. When we leave, we’ll leave
nothing behind. The love we make, we take with us.
When the pact was signed
I was eighth in line for a decaf.
When the navy arrived
I poured myself a second Scoth.
When the boat was towed
I sent my tenth email of the day.
When security tightened
we bought the fourth-best house in the street.
When the schools were closed
I drove my third child to ballet.
When they sewed their lips
I flossed the crown on my seventh tooth.
When the locals turned
I was sixth in line at the checkout.
When the riots broke
I filed my tax at the eleventh hour.
When the fences fell
I made my fifth call to the bank.
When the baton was raised
I was ninth-placed caller on hold.
When the rock was dropped
I was twelfth in line at the traffic lights.
At the airport the next day
I was first in line for an upgrade.
From Best Australian Poems 2015
There was the one who walked into a river
with her pockets full of stones and the one
who started her car with the garage door closed,
determined to drive herself elsewhere.
The youngest went into the kitchen
and placed her head where she had
so often placed chickens or hams.
These were the women whose voices
I carried in my backpacks, whose books
moved with me from one city to another
and, one day, I realized I had outlived
all of them. I was sad that they could
not describe the other world,
that they offered no map to old age.
Was it dangerous to write? I began
to walk more carefully beside rivers,
to eat cold food, to let someone else
back the car out of the driveway.
We’re not going to die.
We’ll find a way.
We’ll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We’ll think always on life.
There’ll be no fading for you or for me.
We’ll be the first
and we’ll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There’ll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.
4.6.17 - A good food. One of my favourite things about the Plainpalais market is that the wait for gozleme is never more than about ten minutes - I spend that time thinking smugly of the 45 minute plus queues for the gozleme truck that does Sydney food/community festivals. http://ift.tt/2s6An6T