Koalas in the Heat
They came during the worst weeks: the air was dry, crucible dry, the sun rose and set without birdsong, houses throbbed under a clear fierce sky. They came along the creek bed. They came to our garden gate. They were on the ground, each hugging a tree trunk. Over millions of years they’d evolved to survive Australian summers. Now they awkwardly drank the water we offered, clumsily clutched branches we’d gathered and looking at us with little button eyes, chewed eucalypt leaves with anxious deliberation. The male left. The female stayed for many days. Each time she saw us coming, with urgent then calmer anticipation she held out her large clawed paws. I cried.
Following retirement from teaching in 2011, Pat Lee turned to her poems and other “drafts of a lifetime” that she had kept in an old munitions box. With that work, she joined Friendly Street Poets in 2012, and was first published in its annual Reader the next year. Her poems have subsequently appeared in further Friendly Street Readers, and in other publications both here and in New Zealand. With Parkinson’s disease, Lee was a 2014 Recipient of an Arts SA Richard Llewellyn Arts & Disability Emerging Artist Grant. Today’s poem is from her first published collection, “Nudge the Morning”, which was launched this month and can be found here.
“In today’s consumer-driven, fast-paced world”, says Lee, “many in society don’t connect with or even notice, the natural world around them anymore. I would like my poetry to encourage people otherwise.”