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