The Deciduous Quartet

Jane Downing

1. A Swarm

With the wind at my back
the chestnut leaves
run
     away
              from
                        me
scampering mice
spooked by the coming storm

2. Fairy Dell

The massacre was down the laneway
The shady one near the primary school

The colours of rusted iron bleed into the cement
Around the nubs of the wings

Dozens fallen from the overhanging sycamore
Helicopter pods the size and shape of fairy wings

The shoulder blades too knifed off in rounded buds
The feathery edges gentle on the ground

3. The Spiky Ones

Plane trees
bomb the road not
smooth like ball bearings
trip hazards like ball bearings
landmines in wait the shape of a virus
with all the evil spikiness rough as a pangolin
dropped there to catch the unwary
once the temperature
falls each year
without fail

4. Fossil Heart

Concrete is not a blank canvas
for the artwork underfoot
already striated by the last sweep of the trowel
in the manner of shading scratched
across an etching
A surface not yet dried
before the leaf fell
became caught and died
bequeathing an impression of itself
preserved as if in stone
as if it’d fallen foul of the Mafia
Just the one from the Lombardy Poplars
a fat art nouveau heart
an arrow pointing towards the lake

A fossil reminder when all the trees are gone


Jane Downing’s poetry has appeared in journals around Australia including Meanjin, Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit, Canberra Times, Bluepepper, Not Very Quiet, Social Alternatives, and Best Australian Poems (2004 & 2015). Her collection, When Figs Fly (Close-Up Books) was published in 2019.

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