Casuarina leaves disable the dog.
He halts on the track ahead, scratches,
then sits and sulks, his undercarriage
a matt of clinging tendrils.
My hands prickle with casuarina scales
so small they're almost unseen,
but my palms know they're there
and the dog does, too, his eyes accusing.
The she-oaks shouldn't have been a surprise,
but were. We came upon them suddenly
as we emerged from the jam and mallee.
I try to unthread their brittle strands
from the dog's thick coat, they snap in two
then two and two again.
I am brought to stillness
by the sense of something quickening
in the woodland behind me.