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LUCY WILLIAMS


almost six


Almost six, you have already learnt
that love can end and be replaced
and never without sadness.
You divide your time between your father's house and mine
and when you are gone my heart
floats out above me, ungraspable
it aches like that phantom limb I read about.
We are good together, you and I.
Your denim eyes translate the language of your youth
for anyone who cares to know you
hardly any baby left, you wake up smiling
skinny, long legged, the day like a first date.
Outside you are busy;
tear up grass of make a nest for your rock egg
leave flowers in shallow holes for fairies
a simple arrangement you spend forever bent over
offer sticks and dirt and leaves as gifts
announce their new names like any good news.
You are astonished by the size of our oak tree
it has become your backyard church
and you a tiny Atlas, holding up the sky
of your childhood garden.
I know you well and yet I wonder at your arrival
see you as others must - beautiful and flashy with a sharp wit.
I photograph your image time and time again
check your sleeping form too often, move around
your room like a fretful guardian.
I listen for your breathing before I leave, the night
releasing me from duty.
I love you with a love that seems impossible
surprises me like religion
one of the few truths I can speak.
From your small hands opportunities move
like bubbles in the still air;
for the future I want to know you in
for years like dreams that contain us
for the compass of your soul to bring you home safe.



Lucy Williams was co-editor of the poetry journal ars poetica from 1995-97. Five Islands Press published her first poetry collection, Birthmarks in 2000. She lives in Melbourne.