For Paul Collis
I was doing the dishes looking out the window into the night and wondering whether these two groups of kids in the park were about to start fighting and then they turned towards the cottage, towards me, and their shouts grew rhythmical, and louder. and then I realised that I was peering at them, that through the broken blind they could see me peering at them, and that the meaning of the hole in the window above Paul’s head was a stone, and that the meaning of the cage around the cottage was a stone too. I stepped away from the sink and went into the lounge, where Paul was hunched under a blanket, listening, and I went in there as though excited or seeking an explanation.
after we picked up the rubbish around the river my father’s back was aching, and when my son woke in the night with a sore stomach I began to be afraid, thinking of the dirty nappy I’d seen but not touched in the hollow of a rock. I am a rubbish pick-upper, Theo said. We are going to Japan but we are not Japanese. in the morning he was well, and in the late afternoon I walked back along the Ngunnhu through warm stripes of light and shade. where the pelicans had lifted together to wheel across the whole bed, here a single egret, and then a single pelican circled low, attendant to a point. ears. there’s a kangaroo in the river, alive and alone among the weeds.
in Bourke I drive through a give way without slowing and then I end up on the wrong side of the road. my father drives through a give way without slowing. my husband, driving, ends up on the wrong side of the road. at Toorale Station the wind gives a most gentle welcome, and then it strengthens, insistent, entirely steady.
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