Can you remember any trauma?
they ask, and I want to say
childhood falls from trees,
delirious, just because you could,
and being pulled roughly back
from dreaming on the Capri funicular.
But I just shrug
and feel the rightness
of withholding these lived jolts that
go right through me.
From: “Right Through Me”, by Lucy Dougan
We cannot return to the earth in a place below sea level, we’ll drown. Here, the sun-bleached tombs hold long chambers and the dead are placed on the top shelves, turning to dust and bones in sub-tropical heat.
From: “St. Louis Cemetery, No. 1, Basin at St. Louis Street, New Orleans”, by Cassandra Atherton
The dark hallway ran with outlandish rumours
of our expertise, who had disabled
the history teacher’s scooter. Where the road
curved past the school he accelerated
straight into the lake among the ducks.
From: “Chicken”, by Paul Hetherington
Each morning I led the children through the little wooden gate to the orchard, and while the heavy dew stained our clothes, we gathered up the nuts, golf ball sized, still clad in the ball gown tatters of their husks. Each morning we ran back to the kitchen, shedding boots and coats, and held our fingers out to the flames. The nut pile grew.
From: “The Walnut Tree”, by Jen Webb
You thrashed out first, hard, with your varsity calves
towards a far granite cheek,
the tiger’s stretch of your body
powerful but ungainly, your torso turning
from side to side like something the ocean was rejecting…
From: “The Hazard”, by Sarah Holland-Batt
All quoted from the anthology: Strange Cargo: Five Australian Poets, edited by Paul Munden (Sheffield: smith|doorstop, 2017)
The poets read these poems at a poetry symposium at Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre on 28 June 2017.