Something is taking over the bush
and the woods and the forests,
the walls of the cities, the markets,
the crèches and the prisons,
the hospitals and the homes of the towns.
Down by the railway embankment
in the spokes of rusty bicycles,
in the springs of lost mattresses,
among bins behind outhouses,
in the urine-smelling alleys,
in the churches and the old factories
and in the snow-white pebble gardens
of the new estates it prospers.
Life flourishes upon the red brick
and pale stone of manor walls,
it worms its way through the ruins
of poor houses and pigeon houses
and into the cracks
and chinks of life and the marketplace.
The old dependable of ancient myth
and legend, symbol of fertility
and love—the clinging evergreen—
loyal, unfailing profiteer.
Ivy on the house kept witches away
and rain. There is nothing
for a wall to fear if it is sound.
The evergreen entrepreneur,
provider of goods, labour and resource
occupies collapsed homes
and roads and vacant paddocks,
enters by way of broken windows,
is not averse to force.
The holly and the ivy
when they are both full grown,
. . . and the butcher and the baker
have long since closed shop
along with the haberdasher, her cloth,
her tape and zips and reels of thread,
and the corner shop with its pies and sweets . . .
and its kitchen fridge
for milk and Coca-Cola has gone.
Full-grown, the imposter
that is the familiar
thrives on all six continents,
has established a lush new social order.
It knows neither diplomacy nor democracy
but only how to look after itself.
Gloss exploiter and consumer
of space and sunshine, verdant
expansionist over earth and root,
seeker of fissures in soundness,
it is impervious to bramble thorn
and claw. Look how tenderly
its lattice insinuates itself around
eucalypt, oak and ash and Chinese elm
then how artfully it hardens.
The vine with its glossy leaves twists
around the tree, the house, the street,
the child, the old men and women
in the Bupa, the MannaCare
& MercyCare halls,
the prisoner, the doctor with her bag
and the highways and the train lines
while the umbels greenly flower
along communications networks.
The overgrown towns have lost
their edges, the leaves have climbed
the drains and the gutters,
muffled the roofs and the chimneys.
The hosts have been beguiled
by the winter baubles for the birds.
Sarah Day’s seventh book is Tempo (Puncher & Wattman, 2013). It was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and received the Wesley Michelle Wright Prize. Her next collection, Towards Light, will be published in 2018.
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