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I Walk As Jittery Mortal

I walk out into the curious air.
I trip on matter that’s going cold.
I feel earth as thrust, metal and scrape.
I look at each plant for belief or breath.
Their brights unveil me as shadow or guest.

I want to feel a whole lot better than quiet.
I’m singing like a lost chorus of one.
Damp and grit play giddy round my shoes.
I step through it. Nothing quite catches.
Afternoon rain begins its restlessness.

Air is my home. I entered it dripping.
Now here’s the jittery earth.
Now here’s crust and brown flare
a muster of body for bodies.
Out here I hardly know myself, finally.

Sorrow isn’t something I’d name.
It would only sound nostalgic or sappy.
This world isn’t mine.
Here I’m a mortal subject.
There are cold things I can’t brush away.

Time Would Choose

What is the magpie searching for next to the path
All this summer we’ve felt only dust
A tree has fallen, its sap taken by drought’s gravity
its smash of branches like a burst moon

I trace ancient blur in the floating night
those tiny points spilling from the galaxy’s breast
The creek is torpid and smells like a sour sea
The bushlands seem to crackle and splinter like bones

I can tell myself its natural that everything dies
But when is death a place or time you would choose
to lie down together with the soil and the stone
to give up the air and the song in your mouth

Rather be with sky, or with the magpie and dust
Rather be vagrant than something you’d own

Jill Jones was born in Sydney and has lived in Adelaide since 2008. Her recent books include A History Of What I’ll Become (UWAP) and Viva the Real (UQP). Her work is represented in a number of anthologies including The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry.