Australian fiction, poetry, essays, book reviews
  • Time to read 1 minute

As I consider how best to place

an arrangement of deep crimson roses

on your light-drenched coffin,

how exactly we’ll handle the steps to your grave

when carrying you, I suddenly recall that time,

months ago, when I turned my back on

all those Bris Vegas blokes in Bintang singlets

talking about broncos and The Broncos,

and snoozing poolside women in disappearing bikinis

dreaming of tanning stations and Channing Tatum,

then wandered off by stacked kayaks, glowing bungalows,

steaming hibiscus groves tended to by shy, humming Ni-Vanuatu

men cradling fallen mangoes and dirty machetes, a dancing boy

in Erakor Lagoon’s warm sea star shallows gathering hermit crabs,

the local village band’s full throttle string ‘n bottle reggae-ragga thing

and drifting mangrove anglers wearing nets as if they were veils,

to the periphery of The Warwick’s manicured grounds,

where the twelfth hole gave in to untamed, perspiring brush,

as well as an elephant grass clearing ringed by bloated banyan trees

(that reminded me of Ganesh and all she can give us),

and how I stood for a minute to watch a lone Glossy Swiftlet

arc, dart, snap at gnats, gulp sticky air, then bashed

my way through a tatty latticework of sticky creepers,

to find a space between forgotten coconut palms,

on the edge of a scarred scarp, where I lay down

with the divine stink of our ancient Earth,

dug my fingers into damp dirt, and finally glimpsed,

through shifting smudges of wind-chopped canopy,

a blinding sliver of silver light somewhere far upriver,

where tiny girls sing lost dugong songs

to their clapping parents, heaped pink clouds,

our ever-widening sky.

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About the author:

Lorne Johnson

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Lorne Johnson lives in Newtown NSW and teaches at Ascham. He's a big fan of punk rock, Jim Jarmusch, boxing, hill running and birding. His poetry has been published widely. Morton was released by PSP in 2016. He recently edited Of Human Experience, a book on the work of Peter Skrzynecki.