Look outside cautiously, knowing the sap

and blood will be thinner, less than before.


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Magpies fight fifty metres above the rainwater

tank, falling then recalibrating aviatronics


as the news drifts in like fallout — death

to meet death in Syria, an emphasis of advertising,


people dead however configured, moral outrage

as selective as images we store in our heads.


Lugging containers of water across the block,

swing ankle passive dynamic, and you have


a swollen instep, so the body makes records

as tissue damage, swelling inside the shoe,


those ‘moment-angle loops’ constituting

labour, effort, hope, guilt, disturbance.


What can we revivify in this year of rabbits

unable to break through to the second layer,


stuck on the surface and vulnerable? An emerald

beetle on a dying root exposed to smoky air —


and farmers saying, We’d know how the year

pans out, and time to prepare for cropping


is time to prepare for cropping, believe in the echoes

of fire in stubble and then rain-gauges will gurgle,


and we’ll burn-off as our fathers and grandfathers

burned (it’s not necessary, not necessary! honestly!


you tell them), smoke sharp in the burn-only-

with-a-permit period, carbon forms suspended


and looking like something you’d conjure

outside pareidolia — roundish and inviting,


almost cuddly and true, like a spokesperson you

you might trust, but then you’re in the smoke


and choking and it’s all hooks and your skin feels

like it is covered in papercuts, your eyes nose throat


pixelate into the dream of firepower and resolution.

The magpies are carolling now, having broken off.


Dirty flames precise as windrows, while rain is no longer

in the provenance of meteorologists or farmers.  


Lugging water gives you headspins. And so the pathology of control,

where fire in such dryness is a repetition you can’t put aside


as fashionable, because it becomes tiresome to hear the same

old things. Gerygones and thornbills have teamed up,


and hunt insects in the eviscerated greenery.

And you water with what is left to dispense,


make medicine of sustenance, out of what

would normally be used to wash away the sins.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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