The Hard Earth
(Heather Taylor Johnson)
There is a mountain, my son, between us
and from this side, here at the bottom
where I am dressed appropriately
in morning robe, where house mice scurry
under the tiles I’ve thought of piling
only to build you a staircase home,
my heart falls and saturates the dirt,
a puddle coagulating its red love.
If I called to you like the magpie in Spring
would you anticipate my swoop?
Like the kookaburra, would you laugh?
Like the mother who has lost something
and cannot remember its name
would you take my hand and lead me to it,
say, ‘there, next to the puddle of your red love’?
Without names, my son, we are memories
and I say we are now.
Without mountains we are complacent
and I say we are climbing.
Without us we are separate
and I say we are whole.
Heather Taylor Johnson’s third book of poetry is Thirsting for Lemonade (IP, 2013) and her first novel is Pursuing Love and Death (HarperCollins, 2013). She has a fourth poetry collection, The Dog’s Own Backyard, forthcoming with Five Islands Press. Heather is the poetry editor for Transnational Literature and a reviewer of poetry and fiction for a variety of journals in both Australia and America.