do you see the river as spittle?
silence, staves unplayed,
bracken its own language
tuarts in their ragged tweeds,
small birds plucking.
see the river as spittle?
leaves shushing their names,
light gone sepia, hinting at moisture,
bracken's lyrics in slang
car roars across what was.
thinking with bark?
settles, yes, the river
these unwet days, hankering
for rain, sky closing,
bracken sounding betweens
necessity here, sanctity,
where ends the understory?
bracken's the hours unheard.
river sits, rippled
still standing? still spinning?
still lapped by buffalo?
we loved you. weren't allowed to
of course. but we did.
draped over, swung from,
cranked up and down,
merry-go-round on green sea.
Mum's peeling carrots voice piercing
the flywire. we loved you
you arthritic backyard myth
when a grasshopper
when a grasshopper landed on my study window last summer
I looked at it for long enough to leave the page and
climb inside and fly and feel the thrill of wheat rippling
beneath my wings and the beauty of panoramic vision
and wonder of touch through antennae and joy at
being able to jump two hundred times my height and
rub my thighs behind my back and oh
if only my yoga class could see me now, but
the couch diet got so tedious and
overnight flights so wearisome and my rear legs ached
and male sensibilities protested at
being left to do all the clicking and mating displays
so I climbed back through the study window
because writing is much easier
from the wicker chair on the verandah
lift your eyes above
the balustrade, see how heat
whitens the day,
hear the easterly stirring the peppermint leaves,
the screech of pink and grey galahs as they
feed in the shade of the ghost gum.
hold this tree.
feel its smooth cool torso, then rise
and drift across fields brown as lager,
follow the rumble of trucks into town
where sun glints off rusted tin and
the wind works like sandpaper on the bricks
in the old silo. now lift again
and rest on the burnt bones of the tuarts
on the ridge as a raven scapes its cry
then drowns in blue.
finally, run your hands across these wheatfields
and remember the blanket of fabric scraps
under which you slept on this verandah
and know that this land won't bleed if
you cut it, and it won't cry
when you leave
a vertical moment
laying bricks. all the
drunken things, everythings.
ritual is physical
rhyme, but, upside down
in the dark, all the
a much younger plant, more
supple. mother's words? don't like
home for house. but still
a seminal text, yes?
more drinking sky. things kept from
me. drained as those
pressed flowers. a vertical
moment. laying it down
every colour makes yellow
rarely shining — not for crows
no, the envelopes are more
while to drive up into dawn
before rain, the air tinctured
stolen from the lane of own
lifting lid, piano teeth
may take sides in homes of rest
RO G BIV isn't complete
but jaundiced were the streetlights
thunks, yes, the hue for that past
who sailed the seas, submarine
just that, the re-membering
then mustard and sepiaed
but amber wasn't the sun
Kevin Gillam is a West Australian writer with three books of poetry published, Other Gravities, Permitted to Fall and Songs sul G. He works as Director of Music at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth.