Published in Overland Issue 245 Summer 2021 · Poetry Collecting brown matter in lockdown as the climate warms Anders Villani This was at the outset of adorable years The earth loved us a little I remember. —René Char, ‘Évadné’, translated by Mary Ann Caws When the rain lets up, we drive around, pulling over here and there to stuff linden leaves in black bags. It’s not a competition to see who can fill theirs fastest, or who can file their nails on the kerb the most fabulously, or whom the escaped centipedes in the car will favour. It’s just you and me driving in circles on the brink of our given radius. A moon of compliance, at apogee. We’re heating the cigarette lighter. Why are we heating the cigarette lighter? For the same reason your skin is the colour of a leaf I can’t imagine. The mycelial networks in the soil you call to. Call empires. The glacial in your smell. The ships of camels I dream of turning back before they run aground and become culls. Creeks run around rocks, root boles. Can’t we speak around viruses? The ’90s: Crocodile Mile—dish-soaped tarp on the lawn, the open jaws bellied through at splashdown; leaded fuel; AU Falcons; Rage not airing clips with lingerie-clad bodies, or death themes. How afternoon hogged the ball then. Driving around, we pass a girl standing across the street from a house I bet is her own, from parents I bet are waiting for her to slink into punishment’s earshot. We pass her again: the way she secrets both hips behind a plane tree with dagger leaves and just peers, as if ownership were lamplight yet to fill a room. As if the cigarette lighter were a planet, ringed by sun, cooling in our hands. Let’s agree we’ve been this girl to each other. Let’s decide whether to brand each other is to caress. Glitter under our nails, we stuff plane leaves in black bags, drive around. Around and around. Do you get the sense we’ve run this script figureless times? Are centipedes wild lips? Maybe forgetting is impossible after all, and this is the old springtime. Read the rest of Overland 245 If you enjoyed this piece, buy the issue Or subscribe and receive Anders Villani Anders Villani holds an MFA from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program, where he received the Delbanco Prize for poetry. His first book, Aril Wire, was released in 2018 by Five Islands Press. He lives in Melbourne. www.andersvillani.com More by Anders Villani › 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 8 September 202312 September 2023 · Poetry Poetry | Games Heather Taylor-Johnson Days pinch and lately I’ve noticed every time I look in the mirror I’m squinting—maybe it’s a grimace. Without trying I’ve mastered the façade of a Besser block threatened by a mallet, by which I mean maybe the world won’t kill me but it’ll definitely hurt and I’ve got to be ready. First published in Overland Issue 228 31 August 20236 September 2023 · Poetry Verbing the apocalypse: Alison Croggon’s Rilke Josie/Jocelyn Suzanne ‘This again?’ and ‘why now? Why not years ago?’ are the two questions raised in each new translation of a non-English piece of Western Canon. There’s an understanding—of course a poetic cycle like the Duino Elegies is incomplete in English, there are endless new readings—and a simultaneous sense of wounded pride/suspicion: what was missing the last time around? What were you concealing from me? What are you concealing now?