Linda Adair: 6 poems

An iridescent debut: Anne Cassey launches The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering by Linda Adair

The Topography of Us

Driving west through the plains
childhood reawakened thoughts
leap between stones crouched
like islands of papier-mâché
against the torrent of memory

I’d watch the sky to see the moon rise
run away without moving a muscle
know too soon so much of adult ways
innocent icons furled inside
a gram of sentiment like a riddle that
takes the words out of a mute mouth

This tarmac becomes a meditation
Let’s stay. No? Just calling in on my way home
to the mountains black-green and hunched
wood fire smoke thick in autumn evening
sadness quickens in the quiet cold as I recall
what I lost—paper bags full to bursting
with tales of treasure—a world
of magic such simple charms
as love, plastic swans, sepia photos

I am the lucky girl who survived,
adored by you who’d waited so long
for me—too strong to worry about
and too happy to worry—until a cloud
of mourning settled at the grand old age of reason
when you, dear storyteller, fell silent
leaving me to seek stories on my own

such things happen
when you’re the eldest child
in a family of last-borns.

**

Once Upon a Blue Moon

Twenty-eight years since that indigo lunacy
when early Tibuchina blooms
outside my window
became purple bruises of grief
grasped in greedy childish hands
until an undignified howl lacerated
the afternoon, frightening the would-be thief
and that tree became a kind of memorial.

Within four days you were ash—
your (younger) wife’s haste, monstrously
efficient as though she had rented a car
and had to return it in time to avoid penalty
or catch the next bus.

Scattered, without ceremony
in a rose garden, like so much fertiliser,
your name appears in a memorial book
she never cared to read.

**

End of Days

The future no longer beckons—it threatens.

Real news reports of dystopian scenes
unfold like fictional horror movies
once told to thrill or warn those not
trapped inside social media’s wall of mirrors.
Entire ecosystems are sacrificed
cultural genocide accelerates
as traditional communities atrophy
under machined theft by corporate barons
to steal the essential commons:
water and air.

Yet nothing punctures the bubble

of greed and entitlement
of the First World spun with mock tears
empty prayers and glib slogans like
the endless marketing patois
proclaimed on infotainment channels.

Reality shows are anything but

duping some voters to trust the clown
who tells them Othered human beings
are their enemies or perhaps
rising seas are God’s will.

The elect talk in forked tongues to deities

without Christlike compassion as
they sell us all for so many pieces of silver.

**

Word Play Love

Picking through the pieces
like scrabble addicts
searching for words to hit
a cool triple score decades on
from incandescent memories
of young firm flesh burning
through that first rush of
jasmines’ cloying scent
full of hope and desire, or
years ago hiding out
in a borrowed house for a night
skeins of feeling entwined
two impassioned refugees
found a vision through the mist
of all that was close to being lost
under the edifice of daily life
always the ebb and flow of tension
prickling insistence vs. not forgetting
us so we rail against
duties and deadlines
find each other once more
writhe together in slow splendour
to the auspicious north east
of feng shui, mirror the ornate
cornices of this old home’s
scrolls vines and blooms
sutured each to each
skins hearts and minds
inscribed with this place
and the view we have chosen.

**

The Light Far From the Hill

From my crows-nest home on this sudden ridge
carmine clouds dissolve into noisy gloaming
as cockatoos screech—beyond blue-shadowed valleys
orange lasers the desiccated plains that lead west
toward you, my lucent child.

At our first embrace chest-to-breast, seconds old,
still connected, you embraced me with such intensity
most newborns don’t hug like that the midwife said
handing your father a blade to cut the cord.
I named you bringer of light.

By ten months you stopped crawling, stood up.
Without taking one tentative baby step
you ran after other children at a party—
since that day, you’ve travelled at breakneck speed
toward your horizon daring us to keep up.

Up here, darkness and fog swaddle the dividing range.
Night will take two hours more to blanket
the bare plains, silvered scrub and salt lakes,
an all-but-deserted majesty extending between us
so many milestones and time zones apart.

Over there, limestone sand blows sharp against your skin
delivered by the Antarctic wind they call ‘The Fremantle Doctor’,
a baking city you declare is home for now.
Your cornflower-blue eyes watch another ocean sunset:
I know you crave a life beyond these shores.

I recall telling you about my first journey to Ireland

and how the gulls of The Liffey cried out in greeting
—an inchoate song of loss sounding in my heart.
Bloom’s Day, poetry, pints of on-tap-Guinness,
balms all for diasporic pilgrims yet to learn a brutal
history told at the famine museum at Strokestown.

I drink tea and contemplate the quantum of maternal tears

shed for all those young and vibrant souls leaving
on the heartbreak swell of the Irish Sea
newlyweds from the West Country who’d sailed
to Liverpool seeking work, only to find their one chance
lay in an assisted passage to the colony of NSW.

Returning as a family to Ireland for Winter Solstice

we roamed along the Wild Atlantic Coast
atop Salthill met a lazy pink dawn that gilt the wingspans
of Great Black-Backed Gulls who harried updraft currents
then swooped down into a postcard Galway Bay.

Above the Cliffs of Moher our laughter clattered like ice

through a bitter white-out that stalked our progress
over pointless famine roads as night outran a muffled day
single candles shone welcome in distant windows
and you smiled in relief to see their glow.

Cosseted later in Dublin’s grandest hotel, I wrapped presents

as you learned the code of those candles,
a resistance burning on the darkest and holiest of nights
by a people starved for the sacraments of faith, hope and freedom.

Your framed photo of our Irish odyssey sits on my desk.
We are together at last—you, your brother, your dad, me,
smiling, frozen in the winter sun of St Stephen’s Green,
site of fierce gun battles waged for independence.
There you uttered it feels like we’ve come home.

Though this mountain house is so far from Ireland
and not your childhood home
a solo candle will stand in this window
waiting, always, for you.

**

Enough Rope to Hang Us All

Dazzling blue brutality …..we all pray for rain
…….pollies and cameras head west    another sound bite juggernaut
……………as if election campaigns never end
………………..or trite phrases assuage despair while a river system dies

each side pledges help …. slice the pie differently vs cut the surplus
…….bulwark seats get handouts but there’s no relief to a basin’s thirst
……………elsewhere Pangea soils blow away …. shroud sun
…………………………..and cloak fleeces yet to be shorn 600km south

on TV a farmer drops the stoic mask admits it’s me or the property
…….he is the fraying end of a thin white rope that’s tied this land
……………………………………..….to practices at odds with capacity
………….he’ll take that mindset to coastal paddocks where rains still fall

hubris and intransigence are in our DNA
…………………………………all those Anglo-Celtic émigrés who survived
………………..second sons of lesser gentry who served Empire
………………………….urban poor purged from the slums of London
for stealing bread

…………..tenant farmers strong enough to walk out of Ireland
………………………….………………………….………………….after the blight

Tory lords leveraged that crisis to clear ‘lazy’ labourers
……………………………………………from ‘their’ valuable holdings
……,,..there’s an air of deja vu about the once-lucky country
………………..our government procrastinates on climate action
……………………ignoring 65,000-plus years of traditional knowledge
…………………………………………..that sustained the greatest estate

popular memory denies we rode to prosperity
…………………………………………..not only on the sheep’s back
….but that of our First Peoples’ unpaid labour      yet their Voice is
………..unwelcome in the people’s house while treaty’s a concept
………………a shouty media doesn’t want quiet Australians to consider

Europeans couldn’t see the delicate balance of life
……………………………………………………………on this island continent
…..wouldn’t bear heavy hooves, land clearing, and illegal dams
…………….in a blip of geological time so-fragile soil pods shattered in
………………………………..the sedimentary layers of a once-inland sea

as New England dieback makes totems of shade trees
…………………………………………………………..in eroding paddocks
…………….and salty groundwater percolates out of riparian zones
………………………………………………………………….cleared of filtering roots
………………….developments on flood plains consume nature’s food bowl
…………….the black loam Lachlan Macquarie relied on to feed
………………………….………………………….…………………
the fledgling colony

this drought could be the fifth act of our national tragedy
…… believe preachers of economic salvation
………………………….………………………………….at your own peril
….someone will always make a buck from the suffering of others

an undeclared climate emergency offers the powerful
………………………………………………………………. with robotic miners
…………… .more opportunity to extract more from an emptied land
…………………….. once communities and farming families flee

given our nation’s heartless response to others, should we
……………..become climate refugees—who would take us in?

 ———————————

Linda Adair is a poet, writer and artist, publisher of Rochford Press and co-editor of Rochford Street Review. She holds an honours degree in English from the University of Sydney, a Masters Degre in Sustainable Development from Macquarie University and a landscape Diploma  from Ryde TAFE. She was an editor and writer at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum from 1987 to 1999. She has also freelanced for lifestyle and garden magazines. As a horticulturalist/landscape designer she prepared bushland plans of management to protect riparian zones from the impact of adjoining development.

Linda Adair’s first collection The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering, is available from tinagiannoukos@gmail.com

An iridescent debut: Anne Cassey launches The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering by Linda Adair

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