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To celebrate our 75th birthday, we’re presenting exceptional works from Meanjin’s past that have defined and challenged Australian literary culture.  >

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Grace Notes

Ron Pretty

Poetry by Ron Pretty

It begins with a comparison: a budgie
caged with mirror, spilling seed;
and a child pecking at the keys


of an upright piano, spilling notes
into the room, on odd occasions
stumbling into music. That’s the moment:


caged in a sudden net of sound
her hair falling across her face, floating
inside the bars as naturally as dreaming.


And then a sudden discord, the lid
slammed shut, the flight
to the bedroom, as though a change of scene


will shift the bars. The budgerigar,
all bright with blues and greens, pecks
the plastic replica; it sways and nods


balanced as a libran, impassive
while the cock struts and spills
a shrill appassionata to the mirror


then flits from swing to perch.
When she plays the piano, the blue bird
cocks its head and listens


and offers from the safety of the bars
a tentative grace note, watching
itself in the mirror, spilling its seed
on sandpaper at the bottom of the cage.



©Ron Pretty

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