Landscape
Type
Poetry Prize

Second place: Not so wild

In the mornings, I’d loiter outside your house,
shivering in the cold mist, breathing out
your name & waiting for you to fill it.
You’d blink and stutter in the new light,
stretch and yawn as morning gold washed
over the loam of your skin. ‘What now?’
you’d say and we’d begin the day,
two small boys without a plan, absent
of reason but full of need, a wordless urgency
that ran the length of our sleepy street. I never
answered, would shrug and let the day respond
as we marched down a rock-strewn road
that muttered with each step, scatting to the beat
of every tyre treading over it.
                                                       Drawn down
to the loadstone creek – brown, barely burbling,
but full of tadpoles and tiny frogs to snatch at,
we echoed the soft throbbing of their croaking.
Losing ourselves in the steep trenches, we
left it each time a little less tame, naturalised,
shaggy with weeds, brambles, the occasional thorn
and cobweb. Some days you came out of the house
crackling with storming boyhood, furious
without cause, snapping at every leaf and branch
and stone – why are we here, why do this now?
Small wonder I never knew what to say, cupped
wriggling worms in a small pool of wet mud
to distract you instead,
                                                 to lead away
from your bruises, the screaming matches
everyone heard but chose to ignore, knowing
our own houses were tinderboxes and the roar
of their flaming would come sure as the sun.
Some days I’d be the one requiring silence
and the wonder of some thing in the mud
or stuck beneath the weight of a boulder
or carried off on a tide of industrious bull ants.
All we had was each other, a mirrored heat
simmering in summer. Do you remember
any of this?
                                              Do you recall
the way we grew into each other? The days
we followed the older boys to the water tower,
a bloated toad of rusting metal on the hill,
and watched them climb to the top, tatters
of porn clutched in hand? You scrabbled
after them once, and I could only watch,
cemented to the ground as you ascended.
That was always your specialty: every day
you built anew the wings burned and beaten
off your back, a phoenix Icarus always
able to rise again. My own body remains
flightless. Sometimes
                                         I dream though
of watching you drift into riotous clouds
and feel again the joy of those formless days.
Only now am I unpicking this quiver
of questions, a feathered wilderness.
You came down from the sky changed
somehow older & wiser & immeasurably
distant – whole worlds lay between
our almost-touching fingertips
as we walked home. Every morning since,
the road connecting our houses has been empty
of us, its music reserved for other boys.

 

new MRF logo-2015The Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation

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Omar Sakr is an Arab-Australian poet whose work has featured in Meanjin, Overland, Cordite, Mascara Literary Review, and Tincture Journal, among others. He’s been shortlisted for the 2014 Judith Wright Poetry Prize, as well as the 2015 ACU Poetry Prize. He is currently guest-editing Cordite Poetry Review 54.

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