The dead sea

We went to the Dead Sea but I didn’t bring
my bathers so I couldn’t go in. I had to
watch on the shore, I didn’t know then
I’d never be back. I was young.
I thought rivers and seas and skies lasted
forever. I thought they’d wait for me.
I thought I could build bridges
back to anything, anywhere. Anyone.
I remember my Egyptian fiance’s mother
had a checkered cloth on the table.
It reminded me of my mother’s back
home in Melbourne. But here, we were
eating pigeon, it had been roasted.
My mother’s roasts were chicken or lamb
or pork and she always saved me
the crackling. Here we were in Hurghada,
we were in Cairo, we went to Alexandria.
My mother stayed home. My mother never
went anywhere. She’s still never been on
a plane. My mother’s life fills me with sadness.
I thought I had time to fill it with things –
Europe, or an island, somewhere, anywhere.
I didn’t know, I didn’t know, what life had
in store for us.



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Gayelene Carbis

Gayelene Carbis is an award-winning Australian/Irish/Cornish/Chinese writer of poetry, prose and plays. Her first book of poetry Anecdotal Evidence (Five Islands Press) was awarded Finalist in the 2019 International Book Awards for Poetry. Recent awards/shortlistings include: first prize in the My Brother Jack Poetry Award; finalist in the Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize; and finalist in the Woorilla Poetry Awards (Commended). Gayelene teaches Creative Writing at universities and Sandybeach; English/EAL at ACU; and is a Poet-in-Residence in schools.

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