States of Poetry 2016 - Victoria | 'Fear' by Amy Brown

The university plovers are fat and silent,
'toe-walking' across lightly frosted lawn
so as not to wake whatever invertebrate
is breakfast. At home they are scrawny,
caught up in shrieking war with pukeko.

Until I moved to Melbourne I maintained
my ornithophobia, which became impractical
in a place with murders of crows on most
corners. So, I decided to love their oil-
spill plumage and dinosaur gait, the way

they wait on pedestrian crossing signs
providing a third alternative to red and green.
Stop, go, or flap black and blue to the lip
of a rubbish bin and spit out cigarette
butts mistaken for cold chips. Swallow fear.


Extract from Our Effects

Amy Brown