bulabul   ants

                  Mum says they move faster when it’s going to 
                  rain. So for me they’re wound up with that 
                  beautiful word petrichor. But of course ants have 
                  their very own smell. 

                  If the earth looks loose, shifting, almost in 
                  motion, you can be sure it’s their battleground. 
                  They’re always there, but seem to be more 
                  noticeable in the summer. That’s when they break 
                  in to find treasures in the house. A nuisance for us. 
                  Goldmine for them.

                  They will carry almost anything, it looks like. The 
                  other day I noticed one marching past carrying 
                  half a bee. Its body. Stamen?

guru    magpie

                  It’s not quiet here. Constant echo of calls between 
                  trees. Bouncing around different heights and 
                  positions. 

                  What on earth could they be going on about? 
                  Perhaps that rain is on the way. 

                  As you can see, ink is starting to run on the page.

djubi-djubi   small bird

                  There are many prize feathers to collect. I 
                  have just added a blue wren’s to my collection. 
                  The others: robin red-breast, cockatoo, galah, 
                  kookaburra. 

                  Nature gave males splendid coloured suits, yet 
                  females dress down.

                  One flew inside the other day and couldn’t get 
                  out. This isn’t your house, we said, let us show 
                  you the way. We coaxed the brown bird from the 
                  sewing room.

                  Thrilled, I thought I might have to clasp her in 
                  my hands. But the frightened wren nearly flew 
                  into the mirror, coming face to face with the end. 
                  Lucky she realised just in time. 

                  We opened the kitchen window, removed the fly 
                  wire and she escaped. Was gone. 

                  I had so wanted to hold that little bird.

djinab      cockatoo

                  Screeching, it tears the sky apart. A massive rip 
                  ricocheting through the blue, clouds hiding 
                  a seam (instinct to write ‘to the heavens’ but 
                  actually) to beyond. Clouds hiding a seam.

                  These white feathers are strong. Viscous. A prize 
                  to find one unattached to a bird. For a headdress, 
                  or a crown. To crown. 

                  I heard there are cockatoos who live a very long 
                  time. Up to 50 years in captivity. How much 
                  more, or less, I wonder, in the wild. That’s just 
                  the white ones. Black ones are rarer here. But I’ve 
                  made sure they’re with me always, inked in my 
                  skin.

gauir      emu

                  Triangle footprints in the sandy paddock. Three 
                  toes in the dirt road. But its tracks are also in the 
                  sky. Emu is mythological for a couple reasons.

                  One’s a long ago memory, tightly held. Of going 
                  on drives with dad out on different jobs. At the 
                  neighbour’s property over near the reservoir, foot 
                  of the fire tower. Emerging into a clearing we 
                  found emu eggs. Did he know to find nests there 
                  (who would I ask)? The massive yolks slid out of 
                  navy blue shell.

                  More, other different egg times after he’d died. 

                  Before the adults could blow the yolks to 
                  make trophies, we snatched them to smash 
                  underneath the trampoline. The trampoline was
                  simultaneously a prop, the stage, the star. All our
                  performances took place there. 

                  But first, the smashing. 

                  We would upend it so the long edge was on the 
                  grass. Get a good run up, jump and cling on, 
                  falling backwards as it righted itself again. The 
                  elastic part always looked terrifying on the run 
                  up but relented in the come down, springy and 
                  forgiving. The bars, however, could be vicious, 
                  which we knew from our egg exploits. Hands 
                  and feet had to be well clear of them, just like 
                  from the coils themselves. They’d give you a nasty 
                  pinch if you weren’t careful. 

                  Through this routine many eggs met their end. 
                  Or it may have just been once and relived many 
                  times.

                  Other performances were staged on the 
                  trampoline. Its shiny black surface allowed 
                  slipping and sliding, while the rounded corners 
                  were perfect wings, just like in the real theatre. All 
                  these aspects were deployed in our major hit: The 
                  Emu Crossed the Road.

                  I’d be a lesser woman if I pretended I didn’t 
                  remember how it went. It was a highly physical 
                  number.

mindjun   grey kangaroo 

                  They move slowly and carefully. Lolloping along. 
                  Then, they move very very fast. Could have been
                   a person hiding in the trees. A quick getaway.

                  On this land I always imagine it’s a person with 
                  a secret. Hiding some family knowledge. Hiding 
                  my father, as if death hadn’t actually disappeared 
                  him off this earth. 

                  An old grey fella visits us most nights. Comes 
                  very close to the house. Watching, moving slowly, 
                  and bolting if we come outside. 

                  I walk through paddocks looking for any sign 
                  of life. Tail swipes mark the dirt. Grey shadows 
                  that look like the landscape shifting—a part of 
                  the paddock—become forms darting off into the 
                  scrub. 

                  If it’s him, I wonder, why would he run?

gurn-gurn     kookaburra

                  Every now and then, offstage, a whirring starts. 
                  It begins like a surprise, but the confidence that 
                  erupts next erases any doubt that they’ve come in 
                  before or after their cue. 

                  It could be laughter as they say, but it’s a cry of a 
                  different order. Rumbling from somewhere else 
                  completely.

                  That mountain sits and observes like the bird 
                  chorus around us. What it could sing. Could it 
                  help me get my voice back?

                  There was a time when sound tumbled out of my 
                  throat like kookaburra’s. Natural. Hurried but 
                  unforced. Trills creating unique phrases.

                  I mean singing. But I don’t just mean singing. I’ve 
                  clammed up in more ways than one.

werbil      eagle

                  Very high up at cloud’s edge. A couple.

                  Always looking up searching for their two dots. 
                  They fly all the way up and down the range. 
                  Mum says that I’ve got good eyesight. I can spot 
                  them.

                  Sure, I can find them, but I miss other things.
                  I do not know what I miss. 
                  Was familiar. 
                  It was.

                  Two eagles.
                  Not to be confused with whistling kites.
                  Eagles go higher. 
                  Til they’re just a speck gradually moving across sky.

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