Hardcore Pastorals: Poems by Rebecca Hawkes

By | 31 October 2021

Perendale princess
(after Bernadette Hall)

she grows plump as a lava flow
so earthed in her luscious volcanics
the rhyolite rose-pink like raw flesh

and boundless as snowdrifts or new lambs
preciously fattening bred for fecundity
holding dear the important qualities

of loyal mothering and rot-resistant feet
she is a rounded pebble spilling down the gully
or an unscrolled fern clinging to the creek’s burst banks

our lady of the woolshed in gumboots and lace
part roughshod part dainty the perendale princess
strokes the dead hare and releases him

to the furrowed earth in a place she can no longer be
a child forever ageless baby tiny as a lamb’s ribcage picked clean
or generous like a mountain maternal maiden

a reclining body of russet tussocked hummocks and hollows
cradling bellbird and silvereye welcome earth latticed by rabbits
but she cannot go on surrendering to the sky

her snarling heart caught in the barbed wire
like a skein of wool her freezing fingers
bitter with blood and pricked by coarse horsehair

her forehead adorned or disgraced by an icy diadem of gorse
her pockets rattling with spent plastic
bullet casings in red yellow morbid gold

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