'Lost World Sonnets', a new poem by Bronwyn Lea

1

In my mind he is always half the age
I am now as he stands on a green shelf
of Razorback mountain. I will wait
for him forever in the backseat of a car,
my chin numbing on the window ledge
as I study his black hair shuffling
the void between earth and dark sky.
My eyes walk him back from the edge.
What does he know of life which as yet
is still a question. His wife at home
breastfeeding and reading industrial
relations texts as we hunt for geodes
along the river – chalcedony, bloodstone,
sardonyx – I’ve found, he says, a place to die.

2

Night crawlers writhe violently in a tin.
He washes his hands in dirt and tries
to pull one from the tangle. Hold it still,
he tells me. His hands are shaking.
I squint as he spears a worm with a hook
and slides it up to the line. My eyes open
as he threads another. He drops my line
in the waterhole and ties a blue tarpaulin
to a tree. You’ll never be a full citizen
of this family, she said before we left. I reel
in a catfish. He pins it with a knee and rips
the hook from its mouth. Half of me
disappears and the other half falls to a hard
foundation I wasn’t sure he was holding.

3

The scream of a wet diamond blade
bisecting stone cannot hope to drown
the ancient rhythms and repetitions
of the marital argument I have learned
by heart. I drive the rock into the blade.
My wrists are splattered with slurry.
It greys my hair and coats my tongue.
The language I inherited is not yet
large enough for the work I have to do.
Our last night in Lost World I heard
him sobbing by the fire and years later
I am abducted by a poem as if carried
off by a hawk. When the rock cracks
open there is nothing inside but rock.

Bronwyn Lea

Bronwyn Lea

Bronwyn Lea was born in Tasmania and grew up in Queensland and Papua New Guinea. She is the author of Flight Animals (UQP, 2001), winner of the Wesley Michel Wright Prize and the FAW Anne Elder Award, and The Other Way Out (Giramondo, 2008), which won the WA Premier’s Book Award for Poetry and the SA Premier’s John Bray Poetry Prize. Her most recent collection is The Deep North: Selected poems (George Braziller, 2013). She teaches creative writing at the University of Queensland and is poetry editor for Meanjin.

Published in April 2019, no. 410

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