Penelope Layland: 2 Poems

Survivalist

It became a trip marker in the crackle of cane fields,
a sign that the beach was not far now.
Buildings of dusty, unchanging carob,
low-slung and windowless,
wind turbines blurring,
a fraying ensign knotted by wind.
All those years of passing by, never any sign of life.

We imagined a dark bunker,
its sacks of dried legumes,
tinned tuna, treacle,
jerrycans of kero and diesel,
ampules of penicillin,
and for later, seed packets, de-sal rigs,
ammo and oiled rifles
mummified in canvas shrouds.

Our girls have grown, have their own holiday plans.
Last summer we drove west, alone,
across the black-soil plains in locust season,
arriving with an almost clean windscreen.

An actuary would say my chances are good
of outliving the last koala.

Our daughters have no children.

**

Drowned town

In the sixth year of dry
the dam shrank from its margins
towards the wall,
became a denser, flocculant green.
Silt banks drifted,
the wind rubbed free outlines
of pitted kerbing, rubbled roads,
brick stumps that once propped
a hardwood floor,
a rack of ginger beer bottles
glinting in sudden air.
Other etchings emerged from the slub:
a baby blanket, folded
into dissolving tissue,
a tannined teapot,
scattered like a hatched egg,
a sludge of books with blurred corners,
a doll’s head, with a crest
of sulphur yellow,
headstones, tilting and slurried,
and a small bird perched on a gable
with a twig snagged in its beak.

**

Photo courtesy of That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Monday

Penelope Layland is a Canberra poet and former journalist, speechwriter and communications professional. Her most recent book, Things I’ve thought to tell you since I saw you last (Recent Work Press) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize in the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It is available from https://recentworkpress.com/product/things-i-have-thought-to-tell-you-since-i-saw-you-last/

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