States of Poetry 2016 - New South Wales | 'Smith's Lake' by Fiona Wright

The grass grows longer on the easeway.

A pelican swipes the sky
            towards the seascape we can't yet see,
its webby legs outstretched:
                                          I wait for these,

              for sunburn behind the knees,
for sand between the bedsheets,
champagne at dusk
              and pelicans,
and their unthinking ease.

They clap their chitin jaws
              when we gut bream up on the sandbank,
this they augur:
to swallow fishheads
and stare with oyster eyes
              at the tangle of tackle and flaked scales
that will sandcastle by our toes.
You grew up inland
and don't yet expect this.

We'll eat straight from unfurled paper,
and leave our oily fingerprints to refract,
buy coffee at the marina
(and it will taste like sump oil
and salt, but a tiny chocolate biscuit will balance
on the spoon.)

You have no history here,
and don't yet know this.
               You can't yet read
the ocean
for its undertow.


Fiona Wright


Fiona Wright

Fiona Wright

Fiona Wright is a writer, editor and critic from Sydney. Her poetry collection, Knuckled, won the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award, and her book of essays Small Acts of Disappearance was published by Giramondo in 2015. Her latest book is Domestic Interior (Giramondo, 2017). She has recently completed a PhD at Western Sydney University’s Writing & Society Research Centre.