We are walking daily now. We are stepping out at the inter-
section of Cape & Brown where a bristling fir tree is
scrubbing tense from the sky. Presently I’ve never seen
so many walkers, so many dogs on leashes and sun-glossed
puffer jackets swimming in autumn’s glare. My son
in a stroller, bald head capped in out-of-season sunhat,
sporty in white-and-navy stars. My daughter on foot,
hopping and idling by pink-hearted daisies.
In the allotted hour, the cones of the fir tree—once
slim green hats—fatten into brown globes, expansive
as eyes. Like reverse fireworks, a flock of cockatoos
descend from the sky to plunder the woody scales,
shred spiked branches. Fanned bracts over blue-
toned pavement where we begin our morning walk
and needles rain down upon the heads of passers-by.
We are walking and I am scanning footpaths
for trip hazards, driveways for reversing cars. Leathery,
dogbane oleander leaves. Chalk-coated berries
appealing in purple skin. Prepped for danger—
future’s proof in the quality of my attention.
Uncertainty is unbearable until I take it out for a walk.
Like a dog I am showing it a garden of artificial grass.
Next a garden of satiny acanthus. Variegated lawns.
Vegetable patches scrabbled with herbs, starred lettuce
hearts, Italianate latticework. Everything a threat.
Everything real and growing sideways. Our neighbour’s
fir tree so close to the house that its branches press
the fringed glass like a heartsick giant looking in.
Avoiding people, their radial breath and quilted jackets
exhaling on the verge. I want to be a myna marking
territory with plumed fisticuffs, rinsing air with song. I eye
my intention. Bare teeth beneath non-woven fabric.
Wearing a mask I can still taste cold and sweet. Last year
is over. The year before last is over, is returning now
in streets that curve like wood after years at sea. At the peak
of Hawdon, the vista spans the Mercy—crossed,
brushed white—where my children were lifted from me
in blue-lit clouds of relief. Year of the ground glass
lung. We are grinding scales and bracts beneath our boots.
We are watching a magpie come to rest on the branch
of a tall candlebark, honeycomb a sweet tune. Next year
a truck will misread the road and reverse into this tree,
splitting its trunk like parting the earth. A man will be
trapped beneath a halo of muted leaves while the driver
sits wailing on the curb. The driver is wrapping his arms
around his torso as if he is shattered timber. We watch
the splinters rain down upon the heads of passers-by.
The streetscape is changing again. We intrude like thoughts,
plant the wrong things. Vines imperil saplings. Dog-like,
I detect menace beyond a fenceline. Beginning at
the fir tree which shakes its sharp eyes, gathers its birds,
we are walking the street we will walk again.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 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