Poems

Vertical Garden

My wife is best expressed as a sugar pea
snaps in the mouth, or a vertical garden
laid flat for love, especially when she won’t.
She is a broken cup mosaic underfoot,
a teapot spout for a nose on a wall mount.
She steps on thunder with a limpid grace,
sees the bloom before it blossoms, is a wild
stability and discovery unto
herself.  She is copper to our cable,
as mothers in their wisdom will always be. 
In a deluge of starving children she
catches stock in buckets to make them soup.
While many swoon and pine to become rich
my wife prefers to inlay and decorate a ditch.


Wollumboola Opens to the Sea

Red Beach was a strip at high tide, a sliver alongside melaleuca,
eucalypts and speargrass,
a composting green turtle shell and carcass─phantom limbs almost in motion─
on our path, strewn storm-semen

of grenade-sized shark eggs, later driftwood embedded paleolithically
in the sand. We were discussing
auto-immunity when we reached the right angle into the mud flats.
When we turned back, the topic

of Wollumboola resurfaced. The surfers, we’d been told, had shovelled
their hands to dig the last furrow
of the channel that drained it like an udder.  Drill-head rain, mallet-thump surf,
the dam-busting swell of lake-water may,

in time, have been enough on their own but certainty is your friend, you know.
Time before, a tractor and back-hoe─
help in spades!  The plant operators claimed generations had nurtured the lake
before National Parks had arrived

with exclusion zones and a nose for the rotting weed the locals abhorred.
Where we had once fretted the shoreline
to reach the grazing black swans, pestering past cormorants, pelicans and puddles
of ducks, or nettled our oars in reeds

not far below stained glass water on which the reflections of clouds wavered
like leafy sea dragons, we were now able
to shuck through a muddy meadow directly to them.  Their calm fastidiousness:
we had almost resisted the temptation

to yelp them into the air, to gloat in their stutttering webbed feet as they lifted,
a ballet of wingtips glinting silver
against the elegant shadow-masses they formed with the sun above them,
their necks pointed like compass needles.

We had eventually left them for fear of a complacency of beauty, mucked
back to the channel and launched
ourselves like canoes into the turbulence.  With so vivid  a recall,  we wondered
why we were here at Red Beach

and not at Wollumboola.  We scurried to the car, dusted our feet, axle-ground
and gear-hopped the rutted track,
fought against the tacky sweat of the bitumen once we made the road,
blurred the township in the rearview mirror,

jerked to a halt in the lake carpark, trekked along the timbered walkway,
then the dune-mounds and onto the beach
proper. The channel had sealed over. Not a wetsuit, ranger, excavator in sight. 
In the distance a swan appeared to yawn.

 

 

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