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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2012

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Laura Jan Shore
New Brighton, New South Wales, Australia


North Coast Commune
Australia 1991

As if through a time warp, I arrive at this rainforest property from New York, the guest of my wayfaring son and his Australian girlfriend. The accents grate and I squint as if reading lips might help me to understand this exotic world.

Tepees poke through the gum trees. Looking like Pan with the first wisps of beard, my son shimmies up the poles to adjust the smoke hole. I hold my breath until he is safely down. Young mothers welcome me into their circle for a birthing way ceremony. I have just turned forty, but here, I’m an elder.

The women speak of midwives and water births, yet their concerns are familiar. Not enough involvement by the fathers. Naked, a toddler clings to his pregnant mother. She says she loves it here, but her partner wants to return to the city. Sweet, sweet surrender, we sing.

My boy and his girlfriend are nestled in their tepee. I sleep alone in my small tent. Each morning I wake to the distant cry of a baby and feel an ache in my breasts.

infant howls at dawn
echo after they’ve gone
in lyrebird’s song

black cockatoos swoop
through the swale at first light
—their anxious shrieks

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