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Content From Issue: Volume 7 Number 1 (March 2020)

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

not all invasions

by Magdalena Ball

the wind is blowing again

ash on dead grass

a dry invasion, portent


species gone wrong

tall, ugly, denying fact

floating on every ocean

littering the sky, the earth writhes


an era of annihilation

sating hunger at the expense

of other species: bird, reptile, insect


a continuum the plants didn’t predict

harvesting carbon dioxide

making loam


red moon

blood moon


we thought they could be gentle

they could, they weren’t

clumsy, angry, stupid

it was unexpected

shifting the ecosystem


picking flea beetles

from dying, laced up leaves

setting fire for spite

dying for fun


we loved them we loved

them, we waited for carbon

symbiosis, the bloom

the flowering


but they were

uncultured, too fast

too rough, and we were

too soft.

Published: March 2020
Magdalena Ball

is a novelist, poet, reviewer and interviewer, and is Managing Editor of Compulsive Reader.  She has been widely published in journals and anthologies and is the author of several published books of poetry and fiction, most recently High Wire Step (Flying Island), and Unreliable Narratives (Girls on Key).

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics


by Ron Wilkins

Were I buried unconscious,

face downward, on waking I

would think the sky below me,

for normally people are

buried with respect, face up.

Held firmly in place by an

even pressure of soft loam,

I’d be like a quivering

fly suspended in aspic

in the dark. Not the same for

a bean, planted eye downwards

from where roots emerge to grip

soil, while the stem performs an

astonishing U-turn to-

wards the light and air above.

How geotropically

apt, the way it knows up or

down in total darkness. I,

and the fly, manifestly

inferior to the bean

in its ecological

niche, reverse in status when

a bean is in the mouth where

despite all hidden powers

its resistance is futile.

Published: March 2020
Ron Wilkins

is a Sydney scientist who has published poems in Quadrant, Cordite Poetry Review, Antipodes, The Best Australian Poems and other Australian, American and French journals, and ‘Fistful of Dust’, a book of poems and drawings.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Idiot fruit

by Carl Walsh


Tempting as shrivelled apples

I would taste but my tongue

Would parch like dried rivers

Breaking open fissures

That would stop even cane-toads

In their leaping/marching tracks.


Is it cassowary plums that lay

As blue/grey eggs on the ground?


Will we see crocodiles

Break the skin of the Daintree river

As ferry cables past?


The forest rains,

Leaves funnelling drops

Into basket ferns; stagnant elkhorns;

The strangler fig’s embrace

Strangling day, and the last glow

Of yellow-bellied sunbirds.


I split quandong on my lips

Gauge narrow tracks

That pitch between plantations


Sea will belt its rhythm

On shattered coral sands;

Wash up box jellyfish

And waste itself on the spill

Of Mount Formartine granite

Winding sediment into the waves.

Published: March 2020
Carl Walsh

is an occasional poet, crossword compiler, lexicographer of fictional words and writer of horoscopes (and other short stories). His work has been published in various journals, including n-SCRIBE, StylusLit, Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit, Southerly, Australian Poetry Journal (forthcoming), takahe (NZ) and Meanjin.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Iwerre Atherre/Two Roads

by Barry McDonald

On country is the time to talk of these things.

“Plants have their stories too” Auntie told me, “lots of them.

They tell us what’s happening, and we know then, straight away;

When the bloodwood’s in flower the possums are healthy

And aretharre blows when the tea tree blooms.

Once that sick-wind comes, then it’s watch out for snakes

And prickly wattle blossom shows the kangaroos are fat.

Stories like that we get from plants”.


Back through town, I mark the trees

That grace the streets with their ardent purple show.

“When the jacaranda’s out” the old lady replied –

No trace of tease or that well-known cheeky grin –

“We know the children are sitting for their exams

And all the tax returns are in”.

Published: March 2020
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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

God’s Prophet

by Catherine Wright

There’s no morning on that slope, east

against the day, all granite’s flat

tree-crotchets of staccato in the dim.


One abuts a boulder; trunk slim

bark reptile-tight, a sinew strained

between the gristly eucalypts.


And far from grey! A crown

of lusty lime, quill-tipped

finger kisses with each waft.


Amid the arid, olive gums, this teen

in green looks on across the hollow

to the light, where vast-limbed


Grandmother stands squat

clinched and struck, her Moses

staff into the deep, cleaved


through stone. Alone, folioles drop

in copper clatter, gnarled arms retreat

with April’s moisture from the slope.


In language of the ages

– quartz-sap, tap-root, lace-bark –

She’s sending messages


by lyre bird, fungi filament

quoll, nomadic Silvereye

Rosella, Figbird, Oriole.


Maybe by that slate-dark Euro

tip-toed, tail in tripod then

languorous beneath the leaves


or on some ancient breeze;

a millennial shimmer, rainforest

glimmer. God’s prophet


of vestal woodlands, sounding

through the lipped abyss and

down to the scourging sea.

Kurrajong on the Edge, Oxley Wild Rivers

Published: March 2020
Catherine Wright

Catherine Wright’s poems and creative non-fiction have won or been shortlisted for a number of awards, and been published in literary journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas. She is finishing her first collection ‘The Consolation of Birds’, and finds inspiration especially in the natural world and it’s power over us. Catherine lives in Armidale, NSW.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Given Trees Their Other Side of Nature

by Peter Larkin



Stunt to spare surfaces like a local norm, won’t dress the given shadow     let nature’s other side take to the etiolation, its converse universal network until sheer plant filament stretches inclusion to its outright


As a fox will fathom a forest from fierce fastenings, as such already within paddings of horizon, exposure to no further insistence     drag-marks haven’t shifted but transfer alliance, motion of what needed to prove it probed



trees are plants
to the event, other-
flanked without
derision, coastal
where it drains on
infinite distance

ask trees for their
as birds take off
from leaf before branch,
the immediate quake



Multiscalar then gusted onto the shell of trees     woodland mesh unruffled by what it doesn’t have (what it hardened) being what it does     stagnant but lignant enough to connect to gift reserve


Arboreal disposition (prevalent woodland) doesn’t need to disparage other sides of gift (little grafted as such) since no prime materials are simply for loan




Greennesses facing semi-soluble flow, blanker side tidal only at the roots     while leaves surge up their summit pools, woodland precipice


No expense of reserve that couldn’t arise nakedly as world     a leaf garners any counter-slide until naturals by gift breathe their one other side



pale periphery
in trust of
prominent tree,
one other spring
set back

porously relays
through a
brittle filter its



Trees alive, resolves well past their parkland     only such fugitive bands might have thinned enough     nature’s further side a rail to its adjunct once again


Overtaking green with unseen array and hold     nature reserves its lessers for a rarer take which won’t be slighted, the weather-side of gift




A wood’s gone trailing coned from root     unspurned but waiting for its nether face among the post-naturals


Riven from trees their nature’s other speed, unhesitant root     where a spinney troops to communion, heavy with not yet ventured calluses



nature’s rind
lifts off

or a collision
of pine opens
like a cone
missing its

routines of
gift owing
the new hand-
icap of prayer,
lenient to
leaf among the
bending co-


Blurted slipways unbinding but slackening differentially through forest     against such trunkage ontological invasion is double-sanded, root-rubble provided


Rucks raggedly across the other side of nature     porous externals in poorer folds deprived of any provisional opposition to gift

Published: March 2020
Peter Larkin

Peter Larkin’s collections of poetry include Trees Before Abstinent Ground (2019), Introgression Latewood (2017), and Give Forest Its Next Portent (2014) . He contributed to The Ground Aslant: an Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry, ed. Harriet Tarlo (2011).

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics


by Glen Phillips

When I first heard your name

uttered by farmers and clearers

chopping out tracts

of our grandfather’s Western Woodlands


I could not fathom

origins of your contorted title

for I thought more of penetrating

steel tools, drilling


in the grasp of carpenters.

But then was shown among

blackbutts and casuarinas

your manic twisting green trunks.


What tortures twirled these mallees?

Was it suffering salinity

or surviving inland biospheres

here in these arid parts?


Perhaps, in youth, you gimlets blindly

followed progress of the blazing sun

circling the sky each day from the east,

your craning necks winding your trunks?


Otherwise, like the rest of the trees

you would grow straight and tall

only branching out to provide roots

with a private patch of shade.


Gimlet, we stand respectfully to salute

you as a worshipful dervish

of such semi-desert lands,

whirling with this spinning earth!


June, 2018

Eucalyptus Salubris (Gimlet) © Glen Phillips 2020. All rights reserved.


Eucalyptus Salubris, also ‘fluted gum’ is a smaller gumtree prevalent in inland semi-arid areas of Western Australia and its common name relates to the resemblance of the twisted trunk to a carpenter’s gimlet, a tool for drilling holes in wood.

Published: March 2020
Glen Phillips

is a poet and professor, born in Southern Cross, Western Australia. He has taught all his working life and is internationally published with some 60 books or chapbooks, numerous articles, short stories and poetry. Glen is Director of Edith Cowan University’s International Centre for Landscape and Language in Perth. He has 50 published poetry collections, many including his own paintings, drawings and photographs.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Floral Organs (a history of fire)

by Sophie Finlay

deep red swells from skin

an eyelid opens black

how deep do the roots go —

where is the tap?

the shutter mouths of stomata pinch the sky

as air dries

as the blue dawn snaps

leaves narrow to stretched tears

flash light, tinkling molecules

then measure the years of fire

in waist-high wattle

being reveals in shattered yellow

offerings of dust

to charm beaks and tongues

wade the undergrowth

wind stems through fingers

my arms cover

leafed,   heavy with particles

somewhere in the connections

of receptors and cells and secretions

they remember

daily red-shifts of light

pronouncing the orbit

and another light –

the muscle of flame, to deepen black trunks

they like the woodlands

they like to be entangled

swollen organs wait to erupt

raise oil and wax to red winds


blackened liquid can bleed from wounds

and time leaks from my body in a dark artery

Published: March 2020
Sophie Finlay

is a visual artist and poet. Her poetry is published in Meanjin, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Otoliths, Enchanted Verses, Verity La, and Shaping the Fractured Self (UWAP). She has been a finalist in several art prizes including the prestigious John Leslie Art Prize.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

feral green marketing

by Mark Roberts



just here / between creek & river / the track a swampy confusion /  green vines & broad leaves /

air sticky thick / a green you have to wipe off your skin / a ghetto of exotics / escaped from a

suburban captivity




they float out on the water reaching for us

ducks avoid the violent mess of green

a sudden movement suggests a fifties horror movie

i wait but the monster moves too slowly

for my camera.




the future is unnaturally green with possibilities

bulging with cliches & marketing slogans

biofuels & energy drinks & politicians

denying the inevitable

Published: March 2020
Mark Roberts

is a writer, critic and publisher based in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. His collection, Concrete Flamingos, was published by Island Press in 2016. He is also the co-editor of Rochford Street Review (

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

[Touching each other they think themselves old]

by Julia Anastasia Pelosi-Thorpe

Touching each other they think themselves old.

Fingers on temples, gazes overlapping.

Perhaps it’s what fingers will bear

and tendons will lose to make them exist.

But today they were a space trembling neither with peace nor conflict.

They were the idea of a flower opened-up sterile.

They say we get old so we can know about living

they say we’ll die so we can push an idea of peace or conflict

to pull real flowers from branches to sun.



Translated from a poem by Maria Borio:



Si pensano vecchi toccandosi.

Le dita sulle tempie, gli sguardi che coincidono.

Forse è quello che sopporteranno le dita

e che i tendini perderanno a farli esistere.

Ma oggi erano spazio che trema senza pace né lotta.

Erano l‘idea di un fiore aperto e sterile.

Dicono invecchiamo per sapere di vivere

dicono moriremo per spingere un’idea di pace o lotta

a tirare al sole fiori veri dai rami.

Translated from a poem by Maria Borio:

Maria Borio is an Italian poet and poetry editor of the journal Nuovi Argomenti. She has published two prize-winning poetic collections, of which Transparency (Interlinea, 2019) is the most recent, in addition to poems in larger collections and journals, and academic publications on Italian poetry.

Published: March 2020
Julia Anastasia Pelosi-Thorpe

is an Italo-Australian translator completing her MA in Italian Studies, where she is writing on the ventriloquism of voice in seventeenth-century Italian poetry. She translates from Italian and Latin, and can be found at @jpelosithorpe.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Ceremony of Love

by Jaime Luis Huenún

Last night the trees loved each other like Indians: podocarp and ulmo, Patagonian oak

and hualletineo and litchi, knot to knot, loved each other

so lovingly, Chilean acorn trees

browned each other’s bark, so many coigües

kissed each other’s roots and beards and new sprouts,

until love awoke

in the birds that had been lulled to sleep

by the feathers of their

own trilling loves.


Correspondingly, the huinca shoots

lovingly buried each other, and the chola

waters opened their luminous watershed, naming

each other sip by sip, all alone and telling each other: good waters, lovely

waters, oh but we have been violated, Rahue waters,

weeping swallow, flowery, midwifing and still happy,

streams hopping like hares

over the mountains and hills.


And eared doves were soon united

by the same love,

the Inallaos’ green

springs, the Huaiquipáns’ fierce

honeys, the Llanquilefs’ swift

eyes, the breasts of the Relequeos’

thrush, the brown hairs of the Huilitraros’

soapbark tree, the Paillamanques’

new raulí beeches.


Huilliche love, last night they loved more

in the middle of the chola grove, under the

perpetual pomegranate Indian sky,

they loved each other, piled up

like water fillies and like lit anchimallén fireballs, in the fragrant

dawn they loved each other,

sweetening the seed just

like clay pots filled with muday.


Translated by Cynthia Steele


Huilliche: the southern portion of the Mapuche Indigenous people of Chile

Rahue: a river in the Los Lagos region of Chile; in its middle course, it flows through the city of Osorno

huinca: name given by the Huilliches to any outsider to their people, especially an enemy

Inallao, HuaiquipánLlanquilef and Huilitraro: Mapuche last names and lineages

Paillamanque: Lonko Anselmo Paillamanque (d. 2012) was a Huilliche leader who played a key role in creating a network of indigenous parks and in recuperating Mapuche territory, culture and identity

chola: a somewhat derogatory term for mixed-blood castes in the Spanish Empire

anchimallén: mythical Huilliche creatures that take the form of small children and that can transform themselves into flying fireballs, emitting bright light

muday: a fermented drink made of macerated wheat

Translated by Cynthia Steele

Cynthia Steele is Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her translations include Inés Arredondo, Underground Rivers (Nebraska, 1996) and José Emilio Pacheco, City of Memory (City Lights, 2001, with David Lauer). Her translations of other poems by Huenún have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Washington Square Review, Plumwood Mountain, and Plume Poetry. Her translations of other Latin American authors have appeared in The Chicago Review, TriQuarterly, The Seattle Review, Gulf Coast, Lunch Ticket, Journal of Literary Translation, Natural Bridge, Ezra, Southern Review, Exchanges, and Latin American Literary Review.

Published: March 2020
Jaime Luis Huenún

Jaime Huenún Villa, born in Valdivia, Chile in 1967, is an award-winning Mapuche-Huilliche poet whose books include Ceremonias (1999), Puerto Trakl (2008), Reducciones (2012), Fanon City Meu (2018), and La calle Maldestam y otros territorios apócrifos (2016). He has received the Pablo Neruda Prize (2003), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005), and the Prize from the Chilean National Council on Arts and Culture for best book of poetry published in 2013. He has also edited anthologies of Mapuche poetry, including Epu mari ülkatufe ta fachantü: 20 poetas mapuche contemporáneos (Lom, 2003). Two of his books are available in English translation: Port Trakl (Diálogos, 2008) and Fanon City Meu (Action Books, 2018). Huenún teaches Indigenous poetry at the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago and works for the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Patrimony, directing the department of Native Peoples of the Metropolitan Region.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Call me Rose Dorothea. I prefer the word for the thing to the thing itself.

by Stuart Barnes

Two lines, fast

Edens,               limelight a rose,               con

-ceal rhododen

-drons, aphids,

thrips. Their

repartee dares

the egotist, silent, eerie

as fertiliser.       All

specimens are

focal            points.

Finer than shears’

flashing grim edges,

per so nag es

shift among the

elements.      Cro



Freesia corms

starch garments.

Acid soil          in ter ro gates         worm

casts, a ring of


firing pistils,

stamens,   in

flagrante delicto,


thistles.      A hollow tine

aerator intercepts

to p   dr es sing,

whets itself.

Swarms of half

-moon edgers

massacre the green.




                                                       e                 n

                                              o         r      e      s         c

                                                            f       l

                                                          i           n











T e r r e s t r i a l


The intercrop swan

song: ‘Pollination’s

a con

-cept.’      The gardens air

no tender


for chrome posse



these parts are the

hereafter’s carollers.


this poem only uses letters from its title, which is a phrase from Emma Jones’ ‘Citizenship’

Published: March 2020
Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes’ first book, Glasshouses (UQP), won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and was shortlisted/commended for two other awards. He’s working on his second collection, Form & Function, and a novel. Poems are forthcoming in POETRY (Chicago), Scars: An Anthology of Microlit and The Night Heron Barks. Twitter/Instagram: @StuartABarnes

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Rose Interior

by Tracy Ryan 

Where is there for this inside

an outside? On what kind of ache

do we lay such linen?

What heaven’s reflected in this,

in the inland lake

of these open roses,

so insouciant: see

how at liberty and loose they are,

as if no trembling hand

could ever spill them.

They can hardly contain

themselves; many of them

are gorged and overflow

from their interior

into the days that ever more

fully close over till the whole summer

becomes a room, a room within a dream.

– Translation from the German of Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke 

Published: March 2020
Tracy Ryan 

is a Western Australian poet who has also lived for long periods overseas. Her most recent book of poems is The Water Bearer (Fremantle Press, 2018).

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics


by Tracy Ryan

Modesty on

the individual level

nevertheless it’s still



a choral mass

by virtue of each


feeble & reedy voice

joined to the next

and then it soars



arterial in reach

along every edge


you choose to travel

and some you don’t

ubiquitous at this


time of year but not

to be overlooked

just because slight,


pink & delicate,

underestimate at

your peril this tool


of puck or sprite

whose whole leaf

one day turns florid


kept out of the house

for its plain alias:

death come quickly.

Published: March 2020
Tracy Ryan

is a Western Australian poet who has also lived for long periods overseas. Her most recent book of poems is The Water Bearer (Fremantle Press, 2018).

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics


by Tracy Ryan


held under

anyone’s chin,

though unrevealing

of preference,

merely transferring gloss,


hot lustre

nothing but mirror

a proffered face

in multiple –

so many the same on offer!


I could never wear yellow like this,

my undertone cool,

distorting to jaundice


thus I keep distance,

but recognise


an intimacy nearly sisterly,


with guidelines built in,

for luring to pit,

to spot,

to nectary –


or you can poultice it,

bring up your red,

your blood,


the pounding head, the tooth,


curing your ache to the root.

Published: March 2020
Tracy Ryan

is a Western Australian poet who has also lived for long periods overseas. Her most recent book of poems is The Water Bearer (Fremantle Press, 2018).

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Black boys

by Brenda Saunders

Potent as spears, black-boys  rise sentinel

after the fire has passed


New life sprouts along the blackened stem


A spray of green circles the base   spins wild

as grass skirts on young men dancing

Initiation Ceremony


They learn the secret value of Gul-gad-ya

the power in each spike and root


A magic resin stronger than string

holds spear tip to shaft

cements a stone axe to the hilt


Brave Gadigal men hold the knowledge

earn their place as hunters


Make a draft from crushed flowers

their manhood stored in heady wine

maturing with age

Gul-gad-ya: native grass trees or black-boys

Gadigal: Sydney tribe (Eora language)

Published: March 2020
Brenda Saunders

is a Wiradjuri writer from Sydney. She has written three collections of poetry and her work appears in anthologies and journals, including Australian Poetry Journal, Overland, Southerly and Westerly. In 2018, she won the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Prize (Queensland Poetry) and the Joanne Burns Award for Prose Poetry (Spineless Wonders). She is a mentor for Black Cockatoo, the Emerging Indigenous Poets site at Verity La.

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Silky Oak

by Vanessa Page

Trophy parts.

The dismembered:

thud-echoes to

amber litter to


bright, curved hands, tumbling bright

cleaved loose from timber:


by limb


framing up the south-east corner

and beyond.


Rosenstengel’s pin-up

each torso measured twice,

sawn and fashioned into function:

weighing down

the curled-up corners

of hot-box bedrooms

clinging steadfast

to dwellings of timber and tin

window joinery and panels.


Grevillea robusta

her resilience, a force

across drought seasons:

holding fast

to loam and basalt

decades before legislators

slowed axes

growing quietly,

bearing relaxed thicknesses

of honey coils,

ready for bees.


Beyond a firebreak,


by new craftsmen

oceans distant

in Larrivee’s workshops

the length of her body

worked carefully

to fine, fluid

acoustic shells:


Published: March 2020
Vanessa Page

is a Queensland poet. She has published four collections of poetry, including Confessional Box (Walleah Press) which was the winner of the 2013 Anne Elder Award. Her most recent collection Tourniquet (Walleah Press) was released in October 2018 in Brisbane. Vanessa blogs at

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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

Banksia serrata

by Vanessa Page

Her posture marked her out as an authority,

clinging to the coast in a chain of tree-bound

buoys, cylinder-shaped lanterns: drawing small

creatures to her body. In her spiked religious

hat, she was dignified, even as her limbs

exploded with buds, and she put out her shingle

(as she knew she must), there was never an idea

of existing for herself. A procession of strangers

with beak, fang, claw – sometimes wings,

sometimes fur, falling upon her suddenly,

heavily in the dead of the night. How exhausting,

to be a source of desire: grow wooden on the

stalk, to wear a death mask of quaint mouths

and eye-holes. It took a dry season for her

to crack open, let go of her inheritance:

maternal instinct holding out, much longer

than she thought possible.

Published: March 2020
Vanessa Page

is a Queensland poet. She has published four collections of poetry, including Confessional Box (Walleah Press) which was the winner of the 2013 Anne Elder Award. Her most recent collection Tourniquet (Walleah Press) was released in October 2018 in Brisbane. Vanessa blogs at

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.