Le deuil, …. or what the Spinifex tells Orpheus

Michelle Cahill


Wild one, whipped by this southerly the marram grass burns, and I whisper

a ghostly sigh, too late

seed heads held in spiral flight, tumbling across acres of sands,

trusting the wind

to land

See, the xanthorrhoea charred after spot fires, the tide eructs its floating

embers, knee deep, in Hades

fire rinsed, waves splintering, scattering, boring out of fizzed driftwoods

the maze of a trail

going nowhere …


Ropes of marram grass thrash tongues, lunge in the briny air, and I am licking

the river’s skin, dry as Eurydice

tasting charcoal, strewn as black confetti, crimped, veined, simmered

whole trees taken out by the swell

a dark silk of memory, a counter being   ̶


So afternoon hurtles, impossibly, the marram self-immolates, chokes on eddies

turning, ill-timed as Orpheus

to our myth of technopoly, consumption, energy, of the gouged dunes

a very swollen heart, a wallaby

limping its way through dusk



Michelle Cahill is an Australian novelist and  poet who lives in Sydney. Her poems have appeared in Meanjin, Southerly, The London Magazine, The Weekend Australian, The Kenyon Review, and The Forward Book of Poetry, 2018. The Herring Lass (Arc, UK) shortlisted in the Helen Anne Bell Poetry Prize. @theherringlass

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