Here on the riverbank
undistinguished red and brown birds drink
and leave on the sucking river mud, cross-hatched,
the patterns that their tiny feet have etched.
I leave the others, wait, and watch the water's ripple
rib the sand with charcoal weals and grapple
the Laocoons of gums and their serpent roots
that strive to hold the banks; a pattern that repeats
mile after agonied mile.
Then a parrot's screech is almost words
tearing a silence I could almost touch
and echoing the yells
of a young boy's yes to a woman's calls.
Hamlet: Let her not walk i' the sun
But walk in the sun she did: on the river bank
where the long green tug of spring pulled from the earth
till it tingled in her thighs and the mica-laden sand
glittered with desire. Earth's surface warmth
flowed round her feet and she dug her toes deep
to the wetness and coolness below. Unbidden laughter
rose in her throat to see her scuffled tracks
furrowing the beach and overlaying
the precisely formless prints of water-birds.
Stillness and brightness overcame her will.
She sank to the sand; her open arms compelled
the warmth of the boy beside her.
He and the sun responded; she, bemused
by the warmth of kisses lay in a long gold dream.
Exploring hands unsheathed her, and her breasts
touched by the sun and love, bloomed pink.
Then voices, and the callous stares of others,
wanderers along the river. Perhaps the children's cries
sounded to her like bird calls as she stirred
but slightly; then came the rough intrusion
of men upon the world that lay behind
the blossoming in her eyelids. Dazzled by the sun
she lay a moment , then the warmth was gone.
Sick and ashamed, she covered her nakedness
struggling into her clothes and, shocked and chilled,
ran from their sniggering ribaldry, leaving the river
flowing silent, deep and cold.
Cold Water Flowing, Time Standing Still
Brown grass in the paddock,
spiky tufts around scrubby trees,
wavered and wilted under noontime heat.
The creek flowed quietly;
long green weeds and rounded pebbles
shone dully under the coiling ripples.
You watched the running water.
I watched you step out of your clothes,
then into the deepest pool.
Floating supine on the still surface,
nipples erect and arms outstretched
like any naiad temptress
you beckoned me to join you.
Time clicked by in daguerrotype seconds;
Each frame defined a special gesture.
I remember muted colours, in stream, on bank;
I remember white flesh in a sepia surround.
Copyright © 2010 Brian Fone