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


Anne Benjamin
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Wing Rhythms

still point
under scudding clouds
my world spins


Look at the sparrows. They’re everywhere. They rouse my mornings with big bands of small voices. Then bounce and bob the day across unmown grass and nest at night in ancient shrines and church eaves. Between limestone walls they careen, air-streaming. New blossoms shiver in the flutter of their busy bodies. One joins me over coffee, pecks the table’s shiny green mosaic tiles. In plumage of marble and earth, cream, dusk and velvet brown, an uncommonly-lovely commoner.

her new-born
wakes and feeds and sleeps
to untaught rhythms—
once my world’s still point
I feel I’m now its vortex

Magpie Summer

You jangle the doorbell of day. My forgotten child wakes in green shadows at the side of the old house, feet wet with cut grass, cheek corrugated against the cool reassurance of the tank. In yours, a companionable season, rouged-up matrons in the rose-bed slyly sip bubbly dew before the sun burns their glasses dry. Hearing your raucous old song—you on parade in jaunty top and tails—even the reticent are enticed to open throats and warble intimate confidences and imagine worlds beyond their walls.

this summer
the kitchen clock stopped
I breathe
one long alfresco moment
in the warmth of your skin

Migrating Birds

It is autumn. Summer sloughed aside, morning rushes with a feathered surge, the drum brush of a hundred wings. The birds swoop cartwheels, swirl white calligraphy on blue. Startle my pulse into the single rhythm of the flock. But, aloft, they leave me. Ascend too fast—I am abandoned: to harvest, plant, prune, mend, restore. And in that moment, vanishing into grey, they condemn to restlessness a lone black mynah sitting on the roof.

under the pear tree
amber rust and henna leaves
charge the earth
with palettes of new colour
nature’s slowing quickens me

Dove Mourning

Two turtle doves, settled on the clothes line, hunch in dusty-mushroom coats with spotted scarves. Brooding. Tur -tur -tur. They cry up memory, an empty speckled shell I once found broken on the path. And other little losses: like forgetting how your laughter sounds; small dreams buried in a bottom drawer; phone numbers I no longer call. Can doves know changes come? that seasons pass? decay renews the earth? that life needs fallow times? an olive branch still buds? My garden has become a wintry place. I want to go inside and close the door. Their lulling calls me home.

in the bare-stemmed rose bed
tear at me—
if I fly away alone
will my longing stay with me?

air shifts
with a flurry of wings
my life changes



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