'Cantonment Hill' by Josephine Clarke | States of Poetry WA - Series Two

– Dwerda Weelardinup

The whistle of the djidi-djidi on the army tank
slices the evening grey. Someone
is walking their dog. I am walking me
around this once defensive hill.

Gun House, Rifle Cottage. Cantonment.
Embers of a campfire through the scrub.
Quarried and tunnelled
– gradient constantly resettled.

At the Gunners’ Cottages,
new stair-rails gleam like epaulettes.
Reticulation runs on rolled lawn;
sand escapes across the footpath.

This hill is knotted with histories
the locals have long fought to keep alight.
What’s left is still
a glassy view of river and sea.

Cars sew a thread of lights across the Swan;
stop-start exhausts rumble at the red
beside an octopus with arms of rubber –
mural on the Navy Stores.

Djidi-djidi makes his
djidi-djidi sound. The lights turn
green; brake lights extinguish
one by one.


djidi-djidi – wagtail

Josephine Clarke

Josephine Clarke

Josephine Clarke

Josephine Clarke grew up in the South West of Western Australia, the daughter of Italian migrants. After gaining an Arts Degree and a Dip. Ed. at the University of Western Australia, she taught English at high school before travelling to other states and countries with her family. Josephine has had short stories and poetry published in Cordite, Westerly, indigo, Eureka Street, and the Review of Australian Fiction. She now lives in Fremantle and is a member of a collective that organises monthly poetry readings for Fremantle Voicebox, and has been actively involved with Out of the Asylum Writers’ Group, based at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

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