the screen spits into life. a wasteland:
red dust, unbreathable sky. a dying sun.
helicopters throb above blown trees. lights
flash blue-red, police lock innocents in homes.
today, a bomb—shells of buildings, of homes.
rubble, rock. blood, bodies. a child’s thin cries.
draw breath and exhale. a cloud of moisture
condenses. remove your face; discard it in the soil.
in the mornings, there is still a harbour. the man
who shares your bed is half-asleep. you kiss—
streets full of people who touch everything,
and one another. they cough, they laugh aloud.
the river cuts through the old town. its spirit
carves a path along bedrock, carries cloud gospel.
we fold the gilded papers carefully. today, we are
making cranes. we count to a thousand, then release them.
in the meadow by the salt sea, plovers arc overhead.
they stutter warnings. we find, and break all their eggs.
a veiled moon: black shapes flit across her fullness.
the closer we move to the mystery, the less we see.
Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet, and the author of eight books. Her work has been shortlisted for several prizes, including twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Her next collection, A Thousand Crimson Blooms, is forthcoming in April 2021. See <eileenchong.com.au>.