Woman And Child

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They listen to the myna birds dicker in the grass.
   The child’s blue shoes are caked with
garden dirt. When he runs, she sees the antics
   of a pair of wrens. She works the garden,
a pot of rusting gardenias has given off its ales
   and infused the danker germinations of her
grief. She watches her son chase pigeons,
   kick at the leaves piled high. Now, a magpie
adds to his cascades of laughter as he runs with
   the hose, pours a fine spray, happy to be giving
to the grass this silver courtship. She sighs,
   watches the drops settle in. Today, who
can explain the sadness she feels. Surely this
   day is to be treasured: the sun out, the breeze
like a cat’s tongue licking a moon of milk;
   her son expending himself in small, public
bursts, happy among clover where bees hover,
   and unfold centrefolds of nectar. Today,
who can explain the heaviness in her head, as if
   all her worries were tomes toward a larger work,
one she knows she will never finish, but to which
   she must keep adding, thought by thought.
She sweeps the petals, smells their russet imprint.
   Soon dusk will come with an envoy of smoke
and her son outlast her patience by a rose.
   Already he is tiring, puling at the flowers.
It won’t be long before they’ll go in, listen
   to the jug purr comfort. He’ll sleep and she’ll
lie back, or get up to unhook the cry of her cat
   from the wire door. Now, a few cicadas are idling,
giving each other the gun and a cockatoo calls,
   a haughty felon. She sighs, knowing she won’t
escape her mood today, the turned earth
   or its rank persuasions; her child’s petulance
flaring like an orchid, or a cockatoo’s unruly crest.
   Today, she knows she will need to consider
her unhappiness, of what she is a prisoner – if not
   the loss of hope’s particulars. Her son soaks
the path, rinses the sky of its featureless blue.
   He is giving that water, now, to everything.
Judith Leveridge

One comment

  1. Thank you for this marvellous poem (and nice change of pace!) I was unfamiliar with Judith Leveridge – Google has just informed me about this fine Australian poet. May I suggest that in future, you provide some small explanation of your sources …. That would certainly be helpful to me. And thank you for all your hard work – I have a not dissimilar childhood history to yours. Best – TS

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