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My grandfather kept his 22

in the boot of his classic green Ford.

She had fins and fat tyres and those

 

ornamental seatbelts. I clung

to the doors, full of fearful joy. 

Behind the whitewashed screen door

 

of my grandfather’s house, murder in the

dark.  All over red rover, arm your

selves for cowboys and Indians, these

 

are the games that children play.

Gardens are simple and their wars

require no skins, no maps or mirrors.  

 

Battlelines were drawn against

the slugs who slid amongst the

sweet peas and the snails who loved all

 

the plump pumpkins in a row. 

Skirmishes with sparrows and flags

waving, as the scarecrow unfurled his

 

banners.  My grandfather’s fleshy

feathered chickens roosted in

the straw, behind their heart shaped wire.

 

And always the canaries sang;

it's true, my grandfather said,

that the male has the sweeter song.

 

I think that the garden and

that 22 must have been a comfort;

they were silent, thoughtless and dumb. 

 

My grandfather would pull that old

green Ford into the carpeted

garage, through the red bottlebrush flowers.

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About the author:

Rhiannon Burner

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Rhiannon Burner has a first-class honours degree in Gender Studies from University of Adelaide, is a former political staffer, and now works in the public service. Her excessive consumption of pop culture seriously gets in the way of the of the volume of poetry she has been writing for far too long.

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She had good days and bad days, and from the moment she opened her eyes that morning she knew it was going to be a struggle. She was tired, as always, but there was something deeper, a heavy feeling in her stomach, a whisper of some indescribable sense that she recognised as the cloud returning. Her vision was narrow, and no matter how slow and deep she inhaled, she couldn’t seem to get enough air.

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