The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Light We Cannot See by Anne Casey

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Kirsten Kowalewski, is from The Light We Cannot See by Anne Casey, released by Salmon Poetry in 2021.

Night traps

for Joe

At twelve, he’s too old to believe
in monsters I think as we huddle,
		faces swarming with swirling
		colours from his bedside lamp, medusas
undulating in watery obscurity, fear clouding
his ordinary radiance      and my heart

a snared hummingbird: the unanswered
question my bright-eyed boy flounders around
		always in darkness—shut down to
		his daylight wonder: rushing      to greet
the leaf-tailed gecko (long-time resident behind
our outdoor couch) which recently produced a tiny replica,

the brush turkey tightrope-strutting
the length of the fence, wide-eyed possums
		glinting from dusky branches as his teenage brother
		grumbles past to sort trash      and practice his cynicism
What’s the point? My teacher says they don’t
get recycled anyway…      trust crumbling      like the dust

of so many cicada skins so eagerly plucked
from nearby swamp oaks—spectral      sentinels,
		those exoskeleton twins left to witness the fading
		Please don’t bulldoze this      appeals falling
on deaf ears—a whole forest nobody hears
destined to be carted off in mulching trucks

under orders of our neighbour, the state premier,
who visited his school to shake hands
		before writing off      our precious bushland—
		where once he bobbed      bound to my heart,
cooing as we ducked a troupe
of black cockatoos swooping through,

toddled to the counting of water dragons,
ran to track that elusive rock      wallaby,
		raced to chase white tiger
		moths; stopped to probe bandicoot
droppings      (with a stick); chewed over      the albino galah,
anaemic anomaly amidst its pink flock—all signed off

to make way for a new      motorway
with its undercover proviso: a thirty-year no
		public transport clause—artificial sweetener
		for behind-the-scenes dealers, while it seems
around us the whole world is burning      or drowning
as we flail         against federal plans pledging certain

destruction to earth’s largest living structure—
where at three he paddled off, lost           in wonder
		and each year since, we’ve gurgled together
		through butterfly shoals, skirting bug         eyed
reef sharks, jump-scaring at feinting parrotfish,
gaping through fogging goggles at giant clams and       brain

corals where we swam shoulder-to-shoulder
with an ancient turtle, before
		bubbling back up to the surface like
		his unanswerable question:
Where will they go Mum,       when
all the trees are gone? And the reef?

A thousand tiny wings
skip a beat as I bend
		to kiss his pillowed cheek
		wanting so much      to lie
to him that the monsters scratching
at his windows       aren’t real.

Originally from the west of Ireland and living in Sydney, Anne Casey is author of five poetry collections. A journalist and legal author for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in The Irish Times‘ Most Read. Anne has won literary awards in Ireland, Australia, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA, most recently American Writers Review 2021 and the Henry Lawson Prize 2022. She is the recipient of an Australian Government scholarship and a bursary for her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney where she researches and teaches.

Kirsten Kowalewski is the editor for online horror fiction review resource Monster Librarian. She has an MLS and a specialist certificate in school library media from Indiana University, has worked as a children’s librarian and elementary school media specialist, and is a lifelong reader.

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