The moment of not knowing wishes do not come true


It turns from scrubbed white to dead-bone yellow on the sill above the sink
A furcula fetched from the chicken’s neck for a game as old as the Etruscans
It sits like a water divination rod above the taps, rocks when we touch it
Clippity-clop, rocking-horse-rock on two solid sled-like arms
I will put my pinky round one arm, she’ll do the same to the other
Our knuckles will graze, purchase will slip on the smooth old bone
Thumbs will hanker to push against the head that binds the two arms
But our mother says, wait, it won’t snap, too young, too flexible
Competition is repressed: we hide our wishes, daughters of the one mother
Maybe it is the same small wish
For now we do not know wishes do not come true, whether we win or not
We do the dishes and watch another Sunday pass, another wishbone appear
Mothers have a rare wisdom: a second chance joins the brittle bone on the sill
Still, how did she ensure we shared the wins?
Coming home

Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night
is a very old human need
– Margaret Mead

It is as late as a dead comedian
The last hill is Sisyphean
Margaret Mead was right
He waits on the top step
Moggie playing statues:
Bastet, goddess of Egypt
His bib is moonlight white
his matching paws are poised on the edge
(why isn’t he called Socks?)
The cat gets through the door first
populates the dark hallway
mews hello, you’re late
we are home

Tathra Wharf
The sky is postcard blue and he notices just how picturesque
so she goes over, strikes
a pose against the weathered railings in a gap between the fishermen
feet nudging a bucket of bait (smells don’t come out in photographs)
Then the usual: smile, cheese, fidget, smile, silent click, capture
She walks across historic planks head butting the breeze off the cliffs
reaches into his hands to check
the image on their phone – her grimace says it all but that wind
has taken her hat and he is speaking loudly to her racing back
Words caught before they blow away: photoshop fixing smile

Jane Downing

Jane Downing, who teaches at the Albury-Wodonga campus of Charles Sturt University, has had poems published in Social Alternatives, The Canberra Times, Rabbit, Poetrix, and other journals.

Wishbone image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Jane Downing, modern Australian poetry



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