At twelve, I wanted to be a paleontologist
digging up bones in the paddocks round here,
easing a scythe of jaw from the creek bank –
not Diprotodon, but horse. Still,
I remember the thrill carrying it home
through that raw suburb, layered now in my mind.
Those strange creatures that evolved there:
Mr F. tuning his finicky engines,
Mrs H. axing the heads off chooks
their beaks still gaping on the bloody stump,
Mr B., a grey floppy hat among bean rows,
Mrs P. parading in her negligee
and beating her son with a hose.
In bed at night I pegged ancient shallow seas,
looking for life stamped in stone,
the dream coins of fossil joy.
And now there’s not enough time,
I want another go –
Digging under this new estate,
a chaconne of grey mortgages,
I would excavate the swamp that was here:
a gift of water where blue cranes
teetered into their westering
and the moon behind them rose from the weeds.
I would sort and classify those sounds:
the dour claxon of the crane,
the crickets and frogs still calling
from the storm drain.
Shall I dig further?
Past the middens of the Kaurna,
proving their earlier claim,
exposing old theft and murder.
Where is my heartland?
What if I dug clear through the earth,
emerging in Skara Brae,
that Orcadian flint in my family?
What if I climbed from the harbour at Kirkwall,
entered that shop with the soundless bell,
stood at the bench where great-grandfather Flett
finesses ships’ chronometers and doesn’t look up?
His clock faces stilled to stone.
Would these people want me back?
Should one lie down with ancestor bone?
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 92: NO THEME VIIISUBMIT to C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow, coming soon! 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 Fiona Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith Vladimir Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith Judith Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith Keri Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with Dan 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 Pam Brown 52.0: TOIL with Carol Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with Luke Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with Bonny Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with John Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with Tracy Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with Corey Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with Michael Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with Felicity Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with Jan Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with Derek Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with Kent MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with Ann Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with Gig Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with Duncan Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with Kent MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with Libby Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with Sarah Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with Sam Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with Astrid Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with Sean Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with Alan Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with Jill Jones
- Review Short: Iris Fan Xing’s South of Words
- Aidan Coleman Reviews New and Selected Poems of Anna Wickham
- Ivy Ireland Reviews Ali Whitelock’s and my heart crumples like a coke can
- Editorial to AFRO AUSTRALIAN
- 4 Works by Guled Abdulwasi
- The Platonic Split
- you have no idea how far i swam
- To the still
- Garden of Grace
- Bloody QnA
- The Physics of Self
- Life Poem
- go ahead, call it magic
- Chalk to Charcoal
- (un) learning
- 3 Sisters
- Blood Fuel
- Raelee Lancaster Reviews Alison Whittaker’s Blakwork
- Alex Creece Reviews Marion May Campbell’s third body
- Ivy Ireland Reviews Steve Armstrong
- Magan Magan Reviews deciBels 3
- Claire Albrecht Reviews Manisha Anjali’s Sugar Kane Woman