'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