In a gully we found it: hash of fallen trunks
like the ribs of some great beast. But
we were too old for it, too big to squeeze within
and too prissy, afraid of the doings of ants
and unknown others, intricate civilisations
and workings of rot, the dried bark half-way back
to dirt, and some maze, some great working
beneath the surface.
Up on Bald Hill, the grey shrubs grew knee-high,
slanted to the salt wind, flowered sometimes
purple like dusk, ochre like sand,
testament to endless endurance, endurance
without goal, without hope.
By night, if you left the track and sat,
shrub-high, you could simply be
The dull-scaled goanna,
shrunken in its hide as if the flesh
had perished since some past
moved in stop-motion, cranking
the cogs of its shoulders. We hung the rubbish
out of reach, beat spades on the ground,
while it licked the air like a slow clock.
Did it leave, whale swimming the dust,
for fear of us, or on its own prerogative?
Everything was wrong with me,
the purple welts where the unsought
woman-body erupted, faster than the skin could stretch,
the fat like off-casts of food.
It was wrong with her too and
I made a model of her fat rolls in the sand
for her to find. She tore apart my B-shaped pen,
threw the plastic in the dirt to warp and fade.
In the tent she rolled on me, savage even
when she’d left her body in sleep, pressed my face
in the stinking mildewed cloth, her on top of me
and her bedding on top of us both.
Each day the sun came up in the tent fly.
A sheet of light on the estuary,
flies rising from the trees like steam.
Each day the lighting of the stove,
one flame for each family.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 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