We’ve migrated north to nest in the cottage beside the dam
held by the hills; our stories enter each other,
a shared refrain spills onto the water’s surface
hovers and rises like morning mist.
On the verandah, after a second cup of coffee, we watch
the sly butcher bird who banters melodiously with his mate
alert to the chink of cup on plate. We are replete,
the crumbs of our conversation scattered on the breakfast table inside.
Slumped in deck-chairs, thrusting our city-worn knees to the sun,
we peer through silver lattice, two women in life’s harem,
our eyes hold fast to the dam
resigned to chequered cirrus clouding our dissolute minds.
Murder’s a thought, fleeting by day, made real at night
by heifers bawling at the pole foundations, their muzzles effacing
our dreams, bumping us out of sleep.
The law isn’t the lore out here, our minds are awash with city woes.
Reeds stand stiff as a mother’s will unfolds into the frosty dawn,
rendering the terrain a whitewash.
A daughter’s divorce has stalled, spouse claims he’s out of work.
Savings depleted; the solicitor’s fees don’t grow in pensioner soil.
And we’re both destitute, desperate to feel nature’s healing,
hands linked, watching the morning thaw to mauve
grass seeds float on top of themselves mirrored
in the dam, contained in an amphitheatre of concentric hills.
As life plays out on a stage down south we seek respite
behind the coastal plain, retreat to the hinterland
seeing ourselves, shadow puppets afloat,
erased by ripples of breeze, restored in the still of evening.
Drawn back to the deck we watch the water transform itself.
Spent blooms with white seed-heads sit on grey grass,
like a worn-out candlewick bedspread, drifting
above childhood memories drowned in a deluge of legalese.
We gorge on simple imagery, egrets strutting between the cows
cumulus rising, flotilla of insects circling the outside tap
butternut cattle nosing the ground
the changing canvas of pastel colour washing the dam.
Madder sky seeps onto the water as we pour a glass of shiraz
to view its final screening: supplicant willows fade out
and tall ghost gums come into relief.
Wrapped in eucalypt air, together we taste resolution.