Or we could leave the house, the pressure
of its walls and light, its hard words
bumbling against the windows,
and go down to the gully where the creek-bank
collapses with the autumn rains, something
you could fall for and put your lips to.
Come on, bring the mattock for the thistles;
hold it between us if you wish.
We won’t know what makes them
unwrap the bandaged thumbs of their bodies
and bear away from the canopy
the moment the day’s balance tips towards night;
we won’t decipher their insect-seeking sonar,
or tally the number of beetles they catch
and the number they miss.
Yet these little crepuscular bats,
flying by hand, led by their petalled noses,
have us mesmerised in the spiky pea,
Scouts sent ahead of the night, detachments
from dark like escaped pocket linings,
one is suddenly there, a sharp dip and yaw
over the paddock, then gone; there
and gone, a relay of presence and absence.
They’re our mystery and guesswork;
their flickering fly-past in the half-light is enough
to make us question the worth of seeing clearly
and settle for partial blindness; enough,
when it’s time to go in, to make you
shift the mattock to the other hand.
- 97: PROPAGANDASUBMIT NOW with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill & J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones