Evening Report

By | 1 May 2020

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
own news,
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
the windows
while your mother calls you good kids above the chirping of reports on the 8:30pm

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