Published 12 November 202117 December 2021 · Poetry / Friday Features Poetry | The conversation with pest control Ali Jane Smith Not everyone knows I was once a giant cockatoo, and the moon is an egg I laid. I tried to keep my egg warm but I was a drag on the tides so I flapped back down to earth and left her alone in the sky, cold and reflective. Bump. Lost my wings. Lost my beak and claws. Soft hands, slippery mouth, plain feet. It’s been a dry, dry year. 82 mulberries missed by the flying foxes and me fell and were crushed, by coincidence onto the grey pavers in exact and tiny replicas of Goya’s Disasters of War. At the bus stop a bluetongue lizard lives beneath the warm cement. The bluetongue always has questions asks me to ask the man in the street why he is looking up into the branches of the old eucalypt? The man points out a hive, another hive, another and two more. He’s been told to persuade the bees out of the tree so the chainsaw operators won’t be stung. But the queens are deep in the limbs. The bees won’t leave. Even smoke won’t make them drowsy after a season of fire. They’re dancing the story of the bees on the space shuttle Discovery learning to fly in zero g. The moon has set. The bluetongue has warmed up and moved on. The pest controller and me stand earthed, contemplating the tree I can’t describe: ugly, beautiful dangerous, safe, irresolvable, hollow the boughs like the sturdy arms of a daughter the boughs full of bees, keeping the tree. A place to rest your sulphur crest. Overland’s Friday Features project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Ali Jane Smith Ali Jane Smith’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Cordite, Overland, Southerly, Rabbit Poetry Journal, Mascara Literary Review and Plumwood Mountain. She has also written reviews and essays for The Australian, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, Mascara, Southerly, and Sydney Review of Books. More by Ali Jane Smith › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 3 November 20233 November 2023 · Poetry our neighbours poem Ender Başkan our neighbours face appears above the fence – hello. our neighbours have a chat with us. our neighbours learn our names. our neighbours become our friends. our neighbours landlord thinks the market is ripe. our neighbours are told to leave. our neighbours try to buy their house at an exorbitant price to keep their kids in the school zone. our neighbours are denied. First published in Overland Issue 228 25 October 202325 October 2023 · Poetry The inhabitants Elif Sezen I died today, among many others, my grandpa died too, and our neighbours, / my best friend, the one with braided hair yes, and our sweet sweet doctors, / our motherly nurses... We heard a blast, then a whoosh of some kind, / and all gone.