Driving North

By | 1 April 2011

The trunks of the eucalypts that crowd next to the highway
are black as a retina that looked at this sun.
They’re dressed for Sleepy Hollow and point
crooked fingers into the sky. Others aren’t playing
and stand there like tall donkeys bound with a fatigue
as thick as resin. Dead trees among the living,
they stand out like the ink-filled veins
of a medical procedure ending in bad news.
Shadows lay down across the bitumen like maidens
tied to train tracks. Twists of tyres, coiled like snakes,
litter the roadside, alternate with native animals
turned inside-out by the baking sun. Brahmin bulls
graze in dusty paddocks, the brown earth
as rutted as the cows’ bony sides. Something harp-like
about their ribs, the swollen knuckles of their hips.
Seventy-two shades of brown melting in the sun,
and it’s only August. Red flowers, burnt to a transparent rose,
wave from behind short white posts.
They beg for a lift, but are afraid of being seen.
We don’t belong here, we think but don’t say.
The highway our unfurling scream.

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