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Saturday, 3 May 2014

An Inhospitable Place

A mosquito net the blue of a birds’ egg;

I remember those torn paper eggs abandoned in the grass-

sometimes,  a tiny bird corpse was folded inside,

and the dead stink would be uniquely birdlike.


My mother was obsessed with the three babies she lost,

and it’s possible that I always imagined them

as goggle-eyed fledglings,

their undeveloped wings like fleshy little fans, folded.


It was an inhospitable place for young of any kind:


the kittens that Dad stole from the ginger cat-

(we simply called her “The Mother Cat”)-

mewing under the dirt and buffalo grass

where he buried them alive.


The only pets we ever had were the whining strays

with gummy eyes, that climbed the back screen door

after tea, and wound around and around our legs,

pressing their flanks, on our way out the back.


I hated them.

They were too needy, and they crept

through the hole in the back wall of the dunny

when you sat there in the dark.


Once, a ferret escaped into our yard

from the Polish man nextdoor;

another  time, a duck.


There were no normal pets for us:

no ball-catching dogs, or fat and snoozy cats.

It was an inhospitable place for the young

of any species.


The only reason we survived

in our mother’s womb was because

we were held in there with injections

and a Fry’s Cream Bar every Wednesday.



Our grip on life was tenuous back then,

but it made for tough and strange little souls

with a tenacious grip on staying alive.


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