This week’s Poet’s Corner contributor, Adelaide teacher Louise Nicholas, writes about the lantana bush as a setting for nature’s drama and canoeing off Glenelg beach.
The lantana bush outside my kitchen window
is a meeting place for small black birds with orange beaks.
They don’t know that each barrelling-in from the right,
each leaf-quiver of requited lust, is noted and recorded.
Most years they hide their brazen ways deep
within the lantana’s interior. But one year,
they lived life on its outer edge and I saw first-hand
the fate that awaits such recklessness:
three squawking brats in a one-roomed shanty,
the paltry pickings from nature’s take-away
never quite enough, only two tatters of barely-there
feathers stepping off the edge of the world, falling
into vague rumours of flight. I intervened
with a margarine container and an eye-dropper
filled with the milk of human ignorance…
Next door’s cat would have made a cleaner job of it.
In the cool of morning a woman rows –
straight-backed, serene – across a sky-soaked sea.
Her kayak is red, and her dog, a daub of black,
sits in the prow its nose to the wind
like the prophetic finger of Moses
pointing the way to the Promised Land.
Beside them, a safe distance from the paddle’s
dip-drag-lifting motion, the dog’s disciple –
young, eager, brave of heart – keeps his head high,
his front paws battling for purchase.
A rocky outcrop safely skirted, a sandy beach beckoning,
he swims ashore, and rising from the water
like the Creature from the Deep
bounds away to regale all the landlocked dogs
with tales of the sea – lucky escapes
from dog-eating dolphins, schools of deadly seaweed,
a stingray this wide from one wing tip to the other.
Just beyond the shallows, the woman waits
paddle resting across her thighs,
one hand stretched out to reassure Moses,
glowering in the prow, that his wilful disciple
will return and – Look!
The land of milk and honey is in view.
Louise Nicholas’ poems have been published in various magazines and anthologies. Her collection “Red Shoes” was published in 1997 by Friendly Street / Wakefield Press, her chapbook “Large” by Garron Press in 2014, and the co-authored “WomanSpeak” by Wakefield Press in 2009.
Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to firstname.lastname@example.org. A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.
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