• Gemma Nethercote Way

 

Feeding Season

 

Sixteen,

driving again

 

She is already

 

the kind

who knows

 

how things will go.

There will be no death,

 

though she lives

with it. In her

 

husband’s house,

 

night is long

and starless —

 

 

 

            darkness                           

 

                                                means something

                                                different now,

                                       

                                                is no longer

                                                                                   the gloss

                       

            of the mare

            in the field

            at noon,

                                                no longer        

 

 

the crush

                                            of mulberries                                                                                                    from her mother’s

                                                                                   tree,

                                                 

            their hands

            stained for weeks

 

                                                no longer

                                                                                   currawongs

                                                                                   calling

            in the purple

            dusk,               

                                                no longer

                                                                                    her bare feet

                                                                                    tracking earth-

                                                furred evening

                                                down the halls.

 

 

 

All winter now

 

she winnows

to make room

 

for light —

eating, she has learnt,

 

is perilous,

and anyway,

 

she will say,

my hunger

 

has little

to do with food —

 

her longing is longest

in Summer,

 

everything

nothing

 

but cadence

of memory —

                                               

radio-hum of dawn,

buttered toast on blue

                                                           

willow plates, the venetian-

glade of the kitchen.

 

Out the window

the lantana like candy

 

confetti. Days at the pool,

the ribboning sun,

                                                           

her mother                                                                                                      

braiding

 

her wet hair —

 

everywhere

the droning

ghosts of days

 

feel only

like mourning,

 

kindled

again and again

 

for him to take

her away.

 

 

 

 

All the animals

 

in him. Dancing

 

you wanted

teeth, embrace,

 

banquet

of pearls,

 

mink

and your crimson

 

ribbon in his fist.

In the torched air

 

you had not wanted to sleep.

 

His stones

at your night window,

 

panther

on the stairs.

 

You,

so much hunger.

You,

 

bright

hare, unburied

 

flare in the dark

blonde grass.

 

 

 

 

Food

 

You, who can tell me

the names of illness,

and of each plant

 

that grows

in your parents’ gully.

You, who can speak

 

of purple for hours,

who has seen before

the fog-blue eucalypt,

 

its leaves like the vertebrae

of an ancient beast.

You, who has known

 

the strange cadence

of hunger, the snare

and florescence

 

of ghosts who storm

the breast of songs.

You, whose mind

 

is sometimes bolt

of silk, sometimes

maiden-hair fern,

 

whose skin collects light

like age. You,

in an emerald

 

skirt at Christmas,

delivering me sunflowers

with the weight

 

of newborns,

their gold heads

the size of dinnerplates.