After the floods

A Warmun canvas
      after the floods, March 2011

Beneath the runnels of grey
     leaking and seeping from the top of the canvas,
          ochres and mustards spill in disarray.
Bright white dots sit in deltas,
     their linear connection sagging and pooling.
Strong sienna mounds are smoothed and weep into the flats,
The bold black has been thinned and wiped with a cloth.
Tarmac is torn into jigsaw pieces.
The place where the women sat
     is hidden by shredded wet season grasses:
          the artist has sprinkled splinters of Spinifex onto the surface.
Below the waterline, a rufous mud dishevels the purpose.
Above the waterline, struts and rooves stamp rectangle chequers
     onto the place where community can no longer gather.
Two dogs look out from a corrugated raft. 

A long way from Sydney

There are currawongs in Dwellingup
but that's all you'll get of Sydney.
Here operas happen without architects.
Domestic confusion is played out in
small wood houses of two bedroom Acts,
an orchestra of one-tonne utes,
no need for surtitles.

They ignore the little birds
squeaky toys lining the fence
and fly their long throats around town
while the cockatoos are out on a job.
At evening they tuck the forest in,
leaving the town sky open for locals
to cast their own shrieks and whistles
up into the star filled harbour.

Blood brothers

No love lost in the lawyers' office
scalpel to the farm,
the jugular weeping,
a mother at home
winding wool into balls
to knit into sweaters
against the winter's wind.

Brothers in blood;
the feud boiling over fences,
simmering on the flats.
The canker of Colorbond
competing on opposite hills.
Dam walls restraining
the festering valleys. 

Sunday afternoon, Spring

We are on the verge, fixing the retic
among the long shadows of the street trees.
Down the hollow street his thongs flap, flap.
He crosses the road to say 'She's not doing so well.'

The lavender is low with the weight of its purple.
Bees are sewing the wedding white flowers of the quince.
Beneath the bottle brush, the leaving sun stirs nectar.

On such a day as this
lovers, mothers and sons
should not have to say goodbye.
No one should be dying.

Then the new holland honeyeater with one glass whistle
and one more,
whips me back to Spring.

A magpie scrapes the warm air with its wings,
lands on the car, scratches the roof, tic, tic.
Black and not black, together in one bird;

telling me
this day is as much about life as it is about death. 

Josephine ClarkeJosephine Clarke writes short stories and poetry. She is an active member of the Fremantle-based Out of the Asylum Writers' Group and helps run Voicebox — monthly poetry readings at Clancy's Fish Pub in Fremantle. 

Topic tags: Josephine Clarke, A Warmun canvas, A long way from Sydney, Blood brothers, Sunday afternoon, Spring



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