Burning the donkey (PS Cottier)

Verity La Heightened Talk

Burning the donkey
We were suspicious from the start.
What decent man brings a wife
pregnant as a pudding
into a new country, unless
he wants the child to be
a kind of hidden penny,
a nice little earner?
She was obviously mad,
whispering something about
a visitation, from behind
an annoying, coy blue veil.
We weren’t sure if she meant
secret police (who are unbelievably
common, in the places these people
supposedly come from,
breeding like cane-toads
in their vivid crops of lies).
She mentioned flashes and wings.
As I said, a few bats short of an attic.
He even admitted that he wasn’t sure
if the kid was his, or at least
that’s what we think he said.
It was hard to source a proper interpreter,
if, indeed, the language was real,
rather than a melange of all things foreign,
stirred like another pudding,
to be tongued off a soon-to-be silver spoon.
Mike said he thought Aramaic
was a perfume for men,
and we all had a good laugh,
but there was absolutely no whiff of that,
I can assure you.
It turned out to be a boy,
born in necessary seclusion,
though Mike said all the lights
turned themselves on
the moment the kid drew breath.
That was undeniably weird,
and a further example
of their lack of thanks
expressed in clever sabotage.
Lawyers even brought in presents,
breaching clear regulations.
Their poor excuse for a boat,
which had evaded all detection
and wound its feral ways to Darwin
despite navy, barnacles, tides and policy,
overladen with stink and sick and
God knows what else,
was towed back out and burnt.
All in all it was nothing remarkable,
although my skin is itching,
itching like an alien.
A nice little souvenir, no doubt about it.
The press should really leave it alone,
and focus on some bigger issues -
a Test begins tomorrow.

Spectre
Slashed into the sea,
it smiles between Gladstone
and the Cape York tip.
Whiter than a ghost’s teeth,
it still grins and beckons
and whispers of what was.
Such colours grew there,
opalescent and alive,
and the flutter of fins
cruised the coral jungle;
parrots and striped teams
scrummed over living rock.
Now there are these teeth,
whitened into brilliance
by industrial stupidity.
The reef a skeleton —
or a jaw stuck forever
in a bleached rictus.
And what burnt Hamlet
to soliloquise on death
bracketing our shore?
Two thousand kilometres
grinning white forever,
and rumours of fish
corralled into memory’s shoals.

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PS Cottier
lives in Canberra, where she rides poetry and writes bikes. Some of this appears at pscottier.com