POETRY

Image by Ivan Rohovchenko

Birth, Death, & The Glorious Mess In Between

By Linda Brooks

billabong  ∙ first cries  ∙  corner table  ∙  shoes  ∙  she waits

billabong

 

willow’s trail

summer rain adorns

tear-stranded chains

in mud-brown waters

at creek’s elbow

where once we played

on bleached summer days

giggling and hiding

within playful strands.

 

moss-slimed roots jut

from clay-bedded banks

their velvety strength

forged there,

fixed, resolute.

 

How forgiving the branches

as we clung and swayed

how easily they bent low, 

persuaded,

to join our play

as we danced like water elves

singing summer’s last song.

first cries

 

first cries

break midnight hours

high windows permit

pale moon streaming

lungs raw at first contact

querulous crescendo

bereft of womb comfort

the die cast for 

life

 

amber pre-dawn 

struggling

into bright light

mewling lips 

seek breast comfort

 

blue eyes myopic focus

finds mother, father 

their weariness fades

in slack-jawed relief

hearts stretched

as vulnerable in this moment

as their newborn child

corner table

 

Winter’s blast enters with me

slamming the glass door to the café 

you’re already here, pretending 

not to wait, holding your gaunt frame erect

 

You move when you see me, stepping 

forward with careful pace, waving

a pale tight-skinned hand, choosing

the table in a sunlit corner

 

You’ve aged twenty years in two, so thin

you almost fold in half. Wanting

information on the cancer, I lean in to hope

I didn’t get the email attachment, I say

 

The left corner of your mouth jerks

the way it always has. You release 

a deep sigh, then details: biopsies

mesothelioma, late stages, medications, prognosis

 

You accept the coffee, declining

the menu with minimal gesture, then 

frown as I place gold coins on the table

I don’t want … anything, you say

 

We don’t notice the ten am rush as 

we measure our words 

with resolute precision, stalling

and starting, clinging to script

 

You disappear into the street, drowning

in the traffic, leaving 

me to walk the other way

I wish you’d let me say goodbye.

shoes

(tales my mother told me)

 

shoes

 

thick card inserts

all the miles to school

poor protection from harsh winter chill

rough trail through scribbly gums

soles redone by father

frequently

 

She waits

(Ekphrasis on ‘Evening’ by Russell Drysdale)

 

She waits

in evening’s low glow

on brown ochre land

surrendered

to bare horizon’s dim promise.

 

I think I hear her story

while she waits

embracing 

a single timber column

of her pale yellow house

I hear dreams washed by flood

heart cracked by drought.

 

But these are mere musings

of my own faded story

perhaps…

she’s only thinking

‘Another five minutes 

and I’ll have a cup of tea.’

___________________________

Linda Brooks has completed a Bachelor of Arts with Hons in Creative Writing. Her childhood memoir "A Curious & Inelegant Childhood" was published by Cyberworld Press in 2010. She has written two books on Asperger’s Syndrome with Professor Tony Attwood: I’m not brokenI’m just different and Callan the Chameleon. She has poetry and short stories published in anthologies: Coastlines' 5, 6, 7 & 8; Wood, Bricks & Stone; Grieve and Longing for Solitude. She has also been awarded the following: Rebecca Coyle Scholarship for Hons; first prize—Legacy University Award; first prize—Gabe Reynaud Award; Mater Misericordiae Grieve Writing Award.

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