Published in Overland Issue 214 Autumn 2014 Writing Topography Myles Gough the soles of her sneakers scrape the gritty sand a butterscotch-ripple-trail, glass and melted stone and tufts of sunburnt grass that somehow find a way she charts her steps carefully while I travel in leaps, heroic and haphazard over the scarred edges of shallow craters containing rust-coloured rain mirrors for clouds and skating rinks for mosquitoes she smiles when I look back, diamond-shaped dimples darken a perfect day, she says. Indeed the jagged cliff is bird-like. Eagle rock, says the map I say it looks more like a turtle’s head protruding from an ancient sedimentary shell you’re wrong, she says, tracing an outline with her finger nail painted purple. It’s definitely an eagle down below, turbulent waves crash and spill over the flat shelf white cold and bubbling a pair of fishermen, pant legs rolled up, retreat from the rising tide they wade backwards with white buckets, carrying metal poles and green plastic bags with jittery half-live fish I bite my avocado and Swiss cheese sandwich and she peels our still-sour mandarin the large one with the black t-shirt slices silver flesh on grey rock as we look on carves out its guts and final breath with his shiny blade at half-three we ascend, with giant strides up sandstone steps to the surface of the moon, our own lunar landing we’d be kicking up dust for days, she says. Radioactive regolith charged and floating and unforgiving to the machines of man past the beach with the lone sunbather, baked, brown and blissful and the father and son skipping stones in the snaking saltwater stream the path turns inland, into and between wind-warped trees that curl and bow and tilt at odd and oppressive angles, like disoriented ballerinas between footsteps, we listen to the chorus of birds, playing games inside a maze of thorny branches, hide-and-seek and Marco Polo moving like tossed darts, rustling leaves, before exploding through rare openings a flash of feathers momentarily silhouetted against the turning sky this way to Deer Pool, says the yellow lettering on the pointed wooden sign the trail widens, a rush of liquid crystals cascades over slippery, ageless surfaces we tiptoe across, like charcoal crows on a telephone wire and still we manage to soak our socks through our shoes the way back is shorter. It always is, she says a re-enactment in reverse, recognisable landmarks lighten the load and mark the way like street lamps in summer, as dusk settles like a blanket in the half-light, I blink away the blurry edges and listen to the whisper of pea-sized pebbles crunching beneath my own rubber soles her hand finds mine. It’s cold. We’re almost there I know, she says. I know Myles Gough Myles Gough is a freelance journalist who has written for Al Jazeera, New Matilda and the Australian science magazine Cosmos. He also writes poetry and short fiction, and was the second runner-up in the 2012 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize. More by Myles Gough 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 5 First published in Overland Issue 228 6 April 202231 May 2022 Writing What happens when authors stop listening to their editors Jessica Stewart When I moved into a second career in editing and publishing, friends told me that working as an editor might temper my love of books—that a professional eye might spy previously unnoticed flaws. I dismissed this, but they were right. Before, if a book left me restless, dissatisfied, annoyed, I would simply close it and move on. Now, I know what is wrong, why I, the reader, feel short-changed. 3 First published in Overland Issue 228 22 November 202131 January 2022 Writing Precarious words Jennifer Mills Eight years ago, I wrote a short piece for Overland called ‘Pay the Writers’. I was fed up with being asked to work for ‘exposure’. It was a time when a lot of writing work was moving online, and this work was often unpaid. Writers were at risk of losing our incomes entirely. If anything needed some exposure, it was the working conditions of freelancers.