Australia

Meredith Wattison

 

Taken from the long autobiographical sequence, terra bravura.

 

It slowly slunk towards me, weaving low,

eyes at a distance, fixed.

 

I have seen it before,

it has stood at a distance,

 

now it sits at my feet rocking, squinting,

 

leaning its shoulders into my legs,

throwing its head into my hands.

 

(What to do with such threat?

I am painfully awkward;

what to do?

 

It smells of grassfire and soil.

Its eyes running, closed.

It demands intimacy.)

 

I sink my hand into its long throat fur;

it catches a pouch’s cul-de-sac.

 

It does not move like my dog; I do not know it.

 

Its head is bear-like,

thylacine-like,

marsupial.

 

I trust my hand

to this striped, strange dog,

its silence;

its mouth the kind

that could tear my hand,

my fingers,

my arm,

my leg.

Its jaw all throat.

 

It shakes out brown pollen.

Its eyes like my dog’s,

its slack brow the colour of honey.

 

(I suspect, dread, wild bees deep in its ears,

see clear nectar in its nose.)

 

Its soul is looking for another,

it follows like a stolen child.

 

Its heart is full.

I have fed it my self,

it wants no more,

but again

 

I offer my hand to it.

 

I am sorry it is lost.

 

My hand doesn’t know of its other.

It intimately knows its own lost demand.

 

It was lost in a grassfire,

it was the colour of the soil,

its tail was edible, its skin made waistcoats.

 

It was as loathed as a two-legged dingo,

the infinite, expelling ocean.

 

(Martha’s grandmother

flapping in black taffeta, landed in the desert,

competed with ants for grains of wheat,

left her shoes in Ptolemy’s Poland,

walked like me.

We have missed the sympathy of snow

and the shoe collectors of Belsen.)

 

A dark fleece of sky,

its edge gold leaf,

rested upon it

like an inordinate sphere.

 

Born in 1963, Meredith Wattison‘s 5 books of poetry are Psyche’s Circus (Poetry Australia, 1989), Judith’s Do (Penguin Australia, 1996), Fishwife (Five Islands Press, 2001), The Nihilist Line (Five Islands Press, 2003) and Basket of Sunlight (Puncher & Wattmann, 2007). ‘terra bravura’ is due to be published by Puncher & Wattmann.

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