A boy appears at school early
to lick the flagpole and speak different.
Scratch the ‘g’ from ‘listening’
like the girl he watches
hang her beaded bag
from the hook with all the grace he doesn’t know
he heaps upon her.
At recess, the boy eats a golden delicious,
seed and stem. Each instant a northswept
southerner in Nonna’s stories, losing dialect.
Kids jigsaw around him; he stays still
faster than they do. The sun sinks
into its resin.
Seven bells. The girl he watches untense
her hand, as if she almost
imitates a marlin, but stops herself –
how does she stop herself? Why
does he see her at her bag
rubbing lanolin cream from a white jar
on the webbing between fingers that understand him now?
This shared language must be rung in.
At lunch, the boy scrapes a beetle off a wattle bush
and fills his ear. Screeches
down the canal, barbed
legs pricking towards the drum.