Jane smith
Type
Poetry

Quarry

The 53 bus rollercoasters Robsons Road.
My small son and I sit up the front.
From every crest we share a lordly view
William Street, Cochrane Street, Shepherd Street.
The bus stops near the copse by Buckle Crescent.

I see a dark shape, furry and alive
A kangaroo? A little horse?
It’s a deer, a deer, a garden-wrecking
Rusa deer, down from the escarpment
hungry, or forced out.

It strides up to the bus and climbs aboard
head tilted to manoeuvre antlers.
The driver overlooks the lack of fare
roars uphill and swings
into Mt Keira Road on amber.

My son turns to stare, and I twist too
a hand on his quickened ribs. I’d like
to touch that thick, chocolate-coloured coat.
The smell of roses on its breath exotic enough.
The deer nods, sets us at ease

with a comment on the weather.
It’s been a mild, dry autumn
not much feed on the escarpment.
‘We come down to your gardens at night.
Eat what we can ’til we’re chased off.’

‘Whoso list to hunt, I know
where art an hind,’ I say
under my breath, but the deer
wags its antlers. ‘No hind I.’
A sigh. ‘Poets have neglected us of late

yet here we are game as ever,’ blushing
at its pun. ‘Our position is awkward.
Perhaps we’re best forgotten.’
‘There’s Elizabeth Bishop’s Moose,’ I offer
‘and Martin Harrison mentions a white-tailed deer.

One of his flashes of white in a landscape.’
It’s probably tactless to bring up Stafford’s
over-solemn ‘Travelling through the dark’.
I prefer the sad wit of Gascoigne’s ‘Woodsmanship’
a poem about – I don’t know what – letting live?

My son breaks in with a verse of
‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’.
The Rusa laughs. ‘A jolly song
that holds a sort of truth.
Not the silly nose: I mean the young buck

at first excluded, going on
to lead the herd.’ Another sigh.
The Rusa raises its head.
Looks out at the shops and cafes.
I don’t want to leave things awkward so I ask

where he’ll hop off. ‘Just before
Springhill Road. I’ll graze my way
across the golf course to the beach.
Find out what seaweed tastes like
before someone comes for me.’

 

 

 

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Ali Jane Smith is a poet and critic. She lives in Wollongong.

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