States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Dog Barks Heard from the Kitchen’ by J.P. Quinton

The river has always
sat in front of me,
mud between toes
shooting down grassy
hills on cardboard. My
brother dragged a sheep
behind a canoe
to the other side,
and painted a warning
on his rose canvas
when my sister drowned.
She was throwing rocks
when swallowed.

Dog barks heard from the kitchen.

Mum ran screaming up
the hill, a limpid wet body
in her arms, almost
like the canaries
the dogs killed
lying at the bottom of their cage.
A nurse heard cries
from five houses away
and saved her.

For a long time
I wasn't allowed near the river
and cursed it.
Its myriad voices, silent.


J.P. Quinton