Soft Edges

By | 13 October 2020

tea is a bush art
stoke the fire
whisper to coals
with a charred billy can
boil rainwater on smoky white box
don’t even consider a bag
leaves in the teapot
steep black oolong
wait and wait and wait
add milk or powdered sunshine
sugar is compulsory
stir rigorously

pain is a bush lesson
dad was a shearer
I followed him to work for day care
smoko is sacred tea time
stop jumping near the fire
one two three
somehow I’m in the billy can
fuck someone get some water
shearers jumping over stock fences
Nata won the Olympic hurdles
that day a gallon of water
held above his head
poured over my shedding ankle

bush lessons have dangerous curves
no phones no ambulance nowhere
shearers running long and fast
more fences and Uncle Jimmy says
Dolly you gotta drive
hold this hanky on your ankle
and stop crying it won’t stop
pain and pain and pain better
call it a lesson to claim what I learned
even small buildings can be hospitals
everyday new bandages and green blisters
I stole that other kids lollies
the nurse wasn’t watching

bush curves have soft edges
a billy can sits on the side
of coals and fate and sings
dad isn’t a shearer no more
I ate fried sheep brains
and we moved in to town
dad is in recovery from everything
billy lessons burn remission
ankles deep and he sheds his skin too
silver bandages at a new hospital
tea is a dangerous love
love is a soft edge

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