June/July 2010




walleah press



      two poems



Nowadays it seems to me
that everything’s a sign:
this pelican planing
beneath pearl meniscus
cloud cover,
wraiths of morning rain,
to alight on a rotting pylon,
scanning the mangrove fringes
for glints of silver;
three curlews watching me
of late from the shade
of a young melaleuca,
resembling three shaman-
eyed fates as I make my way
to the pewter river:
messengers in avian guise
who cross borders,
mercurial couriers, passing
from what is unknowable
to the unknown…


In the gallery café courtyard

Having licked the velvety jade
lining avocado rind,
a she-dragon refocuses,
assumes a cobra asana,
regarding us expectantly
with gimlet-eyed
reserved for the sole
occupants of quiet cafés.

An ibis fusses, fossicking,
more savvy than the saurian,
one glance down an arc of bill
enough to ascertain
there’s nothing at our table
worth the scavenging.

Tepid coffee, tepid water
fuel a brief exchange on zoos.
Something can be gleaned
from how another views
a small prehensile, watching him
and hoping for a crumb to fall.
The water dragon makes him nervous,
and the zoo-talk palls.

Nor is he charmed by winged seeds
that the rosewood strews about our feet,
propeller flukes of stalled attempts
at launching conversation, on a day
when minds aspire, but zeppelins
decline to rise,
grounded by a lack of helium.

Words ignite, but fail to fire,
stubbed out on the unvoiced thought
our only common ground is sourced
within the third conditional,
that absurd modality denoting
unreality, hypothetical
desire’s demise:

If you weren’t…
If I weren’t…
(so burnt):
this subtext…

Still the water dragon waits,
impassive sphinx of spherulite.
Our dialogue is foundering,
the cups empty, the table bare.
She doesn’t know we haven’t
any crumbs to spare for her.

Jena Woodhouse is a Queensland-born poet and writer of short and long fiction. Her work has been widely published in literary magazines and has received a number of awards. Her latest publication is a narrative, ‘Farming Ghosts’ (Ginninderra 2009), and she has recently been awarded an International Writer’s Fellowship to Hawthornden International Writers’ Retreat at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland.