She walks down the back
past the clothesline
behind the large shed.
A strange adjunct of garden
they didn’t even realise was theirs
when they bought the little rundown house.
Not much here, twisted pear trees,
the children’s swing, a water tank, almost empty now.
In spring the boneseed
from the palms of her hand.
The boy from two doors down
cuts the lawns. In the street
when he sees her he waves
or with a friend.
It’s early morning,
Long hot night,
finally creeping in after the dawn.
She aches all over from badly sleeping.
When she slept
her husband in a violent dream
shook her awake, asking for the children.
Oh the light is lovely now and the breeze
across the dry grasses.
A peep-wren flickers in the paperbark tree.
Here in the far corner of the yard
she sees something half child.
It appears to be building a nest.
It reminds her sharply of
her first born, knotted hair, narrow bones,
but this thing is smaller,
though not small as to be delightful.
(Perhaps knee height?)
It smells like shredded wheat, like dead grass,
like years of drought.
It is a thing more strange than she has ever seen
stranger than the second daughter
born in the caul,
stranger than the third child,
born a boy.
She has seen it and
doesn’t want to have seen it.
She turns away, embarrassed by the miracle,
walks back to the clothesline and begins to briskly unpeg.
From the corner of her eye
she watches it
between the wires of the fence and into
next door’s garden.
She carries the clothes to the house.
Curiosity draws her back in the late afternoon.
It wasn’t a nest at all,
nothing so intricate.
Just a clumsy star of sticks,
like a child’s game
of laying a fire.
She walks back to the house,
twigs snapping underfoot.
Everything is so dry.