While I in sandpits sat, dug holes to China,
Walked home from school, green backpack, shoulders bouncing,
Penknife in hand, you’d pace the forest’s heart—
Pick berries, dream revenge against the killers.
We grew on separate, split by small sea-water,
Two lengthening children, pre-desire, regret.
At fourteen your eyes loomed large, closed round, white-moon.
I longed to duck my head and instead stood,
Not knowing my mouth must move––
Kept air beneath my bow, above the string:
Risked not one mis-stepped sound, false frictive note.
Discarding clothes compared to this was simple,
A bed I’d swum, blank-white, sea-bright, since birth.
Asked me, a thousand times, I never answered—
Thought bodies outgrew words, had not yet learned
Of Satan’s fall, smote on him sore,
His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced,
Thick as autumnal leaves strowing the floor,
Kindling a sea of flame, the once-cool brooks in Vallombrosa
Leaping, furnace-forged, white-hot, red-gold,
Vaulted with fire. So I was but did not know,
Nor could look down, nor could forewarn, nor could feel awe.
At fifteen from my mouth outpoured a river.
At sixteen you crossed the wildest ocean,
Didn’t drown in shock-storms or tsunamis.
Five months gone: the native birds still pierce the air,
Their shell-beaks pick, necks pink with frosting.
They don’t turn back
But walk forwards through the grass,
Mouths pressed earth-down.
No arms, just legs and throat.
White crests like wind-topped waves.
Grey tail-wings uselessly at rest.
I did not believe your words.
The jacarandas bloomed more fulsome than before,
Purple flowers filled
When I was small and I was whole.
It’s too late now to hear their bullet fall.
The rain has washed all through one month of autumn.
The new year’s children climb on wooden benches,
They topple on the ground, forget they cry.
Am I light like them?
Their voices hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are sailing backwards down the river,
Rewinding the ocean you left upon,
Seeing caps white glare blue, so bright, you must avert your eyes,
Hear this, the water’s sound.
My father said after you’d gone: forget it wholly.
I remember now only his age-long care
Which ceaselessly returns, like winds cross oceans
Which earth’s aeons’ mountains onwards range.
- 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and 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: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith 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