Walking the Baby
In these quiet streets — backwaters idling
away from the thrust of ocean and wind —
we walk and walk, my eyes lured by the seduction of green,
layers of leaves and weeds with tiny shafts of sun
like windows into a hidden world.
Each backyard seems better than the last
and I imagine lying in long grass,
watching the wink of bluebells and the shift of light,
lulled by sea air and stillness into a sense of belonging.
A false turn reveals an ageing surfboard puckered from the sun
projecting from a tree’s fork, a pair of frying pans
leaning against a stump and a headless rooster
lying in the grass, its feet caught forever in desperate escape,
and I remember how far we are from home
and that my middle son calls Adelaide another country
as if he had already grown old on our island.
Those secluded corners and dark green spaces
offer threats I didn’t notice earlier and I start to run
as fast as the rabbit we’d passed sunning itself
in someone’s frontyard until it heard our steps;
overwhelmed with unease, I am overcome by distance
and the thorny clasp of family, the knots that smooth
and tighten simultaneously like an endless puzzle.
We turn a corner and the pram wheels’ endless circling
halts suddenly as I stare at the gnarled sprawl of grey bark,
clusters of small hard nuts and the odd burst of cream:
our house is ringed by melaleucas like these,
(each frail seedling a gift from a friend
who nurtured them from seed
collecting those tiny rattles from the trees
that umbrella her family’s shack),
their trunks fatten each year, olive arms
growing into their neighbour’s.
One day our tea-trees will be a hedge spread wide
across sea and sky, sinewy limbs and wrinkled skin
embracing you and your brothers
as you hide, and seek.
© Adrienne Eberhard
Tasmanian Times Poetry Editor.
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