More Poems of Australian Childhood


THE COCONUT

There had never been a coconut in our town
until my sister ordered one from the shop.
We waited months for it to arrive
and almost drove Mr Baldini crazy
asking for news of this round messenger
from the outside world we’d never seen.
When the coconut finally arrived,
it was like a taste of the exotic,
a cure for our isolation.
We didn’t know what to do with the thing,
so we threw it around for a while
then got a hammer from Dad’s toolbox,
sat on the back step and cracked the nut open.
I remember being disappointed,
although I don’t know what I expected.
We drank the juice and then each took a spoon,
levered out the flaky white stuff and ate it.
We never talked about the coconut
after we had thrown away the shell;
it had failed to do the impossible.

GHOST TOWN

Gold rush memory in the desert
half-buried in the scorching sand,
mummified by the dry heat
as if it were alive last year.
Mounds of earth sprawl to the horizon,
traces of thousands of digging dreams.
Looking through the door,
you can see the ruins of civilisation;
filtered through a sieve, the earth leaves tiny shells,
remnants of an inland sea.

PALEONTOLOGY

A flock of small dinosaurs:
chooks hunting backyard snails,
spearing crunchy shells on sharp beaks
directed by bright orange eyes.
When the heat was too intense
and the whole world sat motionless
waiting for the blissful cool of evening
like the first breath after nearly drowning,
they dug deep holes with scaly feet –
dirt flying up like clouds of flies –
and rested in the cool earth under the surface.
Those that died were buried in the same soil,
bones waiting rediscovery.

These were published the other day, together with two others of mine, in the British magazine Lothlorien Poetry Journal.

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