Restrictions don’t stop the sprinkler’s spray, begun well before the afternoon light.
Water droplets hang on the hills hoist like sweat on skin, the backyard
a heat-stricken waterpark. With hands in the kitchen sink
peeling potatoes, your mother watches out the window
yellowing curtains pulled back, like her finger-tangled hair, so she can call
to you and your brother when dinner’s ready. Behind her the news
reporters hum, static-trapped flies mimicking the ones in her sight. News
about the droughts and the floods and the fires that come with long sunlit
days radiate from crackling speakers. Outside, the dropping light hangs cockatoo
over the races and games of tag your mother knows you’re having in the yard.
A breeze, too full of dry heat to be a relief, uses the window
to explore the house, and your mother’s laugh-lined face glancing down at the sink.
Her practised hands – wrinkled from the warm, potato-skin sink
water – don’t need to hold the phone cradled between her ear and shoulder, as her
less repetitive but more mundane than the TV’s, is told to a friend. Their lives a
for each other to see through and learn every detail: a bathroom light
has finally been fixed, the struggle to mow a backyard
lawn with a rusting mower, and the need to call
someone about clearing the gutters of eucalyptus leaves. Your mother’s phone calls
can last for hours, and you know that many of them take place at the sink,
making food and cleaning dishes, watching the free entertainment in the backyard.
She chops vegetables, and, during the ad break promising news
programs into the night, flicks on the kitchen light.
The embroidered curtains shift and blistering houseplants on the window
sill shiver from burning breath. Your mother will shut the kitchen window
when the night settles and only the cricket and cicada calls
remain. Until then, especially while the oven glows and the unchallenged light
lingers, everything stays open. She prays for evening winds that will sink
the house into a cool embrace, so the sporting news
of the day can be shared, both professional and backyard.
Overhead, early bats are spectators to the competitions in the yard
and your mother commits the image from the window
to memory. Her friend receives the picture second-hand; like all their news.
You and your brother will play before your mother calls
you inside, but that won’t be until after the sun sinks
well below its mountain grave, and only the open doors and windows give light.
And then, from the night-soaked yard you and your brother will clamber inside to
the bathroom sink,
barefoot and red-cheeked under the heatless light. The southerly will glide through
while your mother calls you good kids above the chirping of reports on the 8:30pm
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with 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