Whenever she remembered the smell and nuttiness
of river gravel, in the old days of picnics
and whole gangs of them at the sandy flat
(smoky sausages had never tasted more alluring!)
she would also remember that time Paul had smiled
almost seriously but holding her eye so that she blushed.
He had strolled off, then, up the track through long grass
not looking behind — he didn’t have to — He had paused,
beneath that thicket of bottlebrush and lillipilli,
tearing at branches, savouring the smell of them,
chewing the leaves and the stems hungrily and then spitting them out.
And she was aware of his body, of the flimsiness
of his taut Speedos and the way his arms rose and fell
and his smile still hovered. He offered her a bunch
of the purple lillipilli fruit — it was almost tasteless —
but in putting them into her mouth she had known
something was committed. So she herself looked up
among the shady branches then, to find another bunch,
then reached out her fingers and tugged it off.
After the Picnic
2 February 2001