Judith Wright poetry prize 2022, VIRIDITAS / little big scrub poem

A roof must be pitched at some semblance of an Angle in order to catch the sun Photosynthesis
percolating into horizon into Buoyancy I was not attracted to Boys but the gumtrees were ok They just stood there

and showed their Growth in a moment of detail I too could move at such a pace but mobilised. Parallelism is
soothing To look out at the shape of that Hill the crew cut on the back of its Neck that sheer drop away cut

away Huddled trees a Crew of oddities that helped me be ok The former unease attaches not to the lone but to
the collective Remnants all in the cut Then I found that Eileen too fell in love with Trees and I sit here thinking

It has always been them My unease is no match for a synonym of trees The conifers that breed the turpen-
tine That encourages soft wood Soft touch go easy they say I passed them Every day on my way to school Down

hill a downward breeze Thoroughfair of acumen that I caught wind of It’s not that I don’t like
men I like men inter alia Men cut down the Big Scrub I find at my doorstep Two grass trees black

boys in praise of The valley—but you can’t call them that anymore Rightly so. Xanthorrhoea—is xanthor- found
relative to xeno- That which relates to foreigners xero- to dryness The latinate of what we see as Blak bodies still

surviving on Country despite arsen Downhill I take a walk to find a patch Charred around the base where Fire
has been lit to encourage growth The flowering return of what we frame as Stress in the human kingdom is an

Ancient practice in love with prosody biodiversity Land sustenance. The Stem may take up to twenty
years to emerge Twenty years ago I was fine experimenting with an upward Motility a chemical pastiche of reality

its ability to call the truth Perception I could collaborate with. How I might work to the better Meant bor-
rowed years to sit in Adolescence nascent as Freshly generated self hooded twink I could Camp out at the base of

my own peregrination Peri- round To the point nearest to a Cloaked antimony soft brittle chip of Anti-patri-
mony semi-metal Semblance of where I Could become rounded queer sticky Papaya seed sack of Semaphore

climbing up the trunk holding Out a flag that says finally My unease does not adhere to you anymore.
You are home Among the gum re-Constituting the chewing and Chastising that Lineage Gondwana

that was my first Place my placenta my Nutrient sack of filtered air and Carbon-neutral Offset in
the form of a two-dollar donation to the environment that I never had to make Off grid now sliding

off hillsides Wait-a-while when asking google refers Both to the plant that barters with you to slow Down
and stop yourself from Annexation by tiny thorns and Yet it also points to longer wait times at emergency

departments. The hospital where I was born is Hid under scaffolding like Everything a place for health built
up by its Antonym fibrous silicate of Asbestos save for Birthing unit B There is almost always a plan b Mine

was a quick Succession into stained glass filtering Walls of green Foliage infinite It accompanied my
view of Outer space as possible. Out further then Back to the clearing of Seventy-five thousand hectares of

Native forest as possible but Criminal the dry severity of Australian humour that exposed Sunlight to the earth
where the sun was Not meant to shine The naming of a derogitory Scrub as lowland vegetation a Low act

committed en Masse feeling they felt a closeness to Figuring ninenty-nine percent as close to a
Proper cleansing that now Means an aperture of Wind passing Shooting the breeze An exposed

stroke through tunnels of bereft life Carved out on the plains Up onto the hills Fin de siécle Lay down
the red carpet Bio blooded flora. Pubescent fluoro into Colour sap poured from the tree Up on the

ridge that flirts With the fall of what was never mine Thirty-five acre virgin Backyard as
lived experience of one percent Remnant—or a Non-traditional median strip Ring of pulse

volcanic alluvium inter alia ecology my Vital fluids have since cooled. Where Kay’s dream trees have
saved us from fossil capitalists her pavement is broken in the Middle mine around the edges I move Closer

huddled into island pitched Buoyant in the broken sea all at an angle gasping leaching the Horizon
gathering Company where needed In the Badlands the borderline between what

for Jeanette was not a question of normal or Happy—no choice for her and not for me. It takes
time Accruals of it to be strange I don’t estrange myself projecting

former unease onto These stick figures of Friends whose spines are electric plantain of
verticalised Radicalised leaves. All Cops Are Brilliantly capable of stultifying my strange I speak

Resonant around experience what it means to have Killed the cop in your head
I walk up the hill Home across the valley Through apertures of light

Dusky mulberry stained hands memoria into suburbia I feel it now on my head bird Squawks truck
Sings down the road reaching out against Immurement me—font of Breathing legible passing.


—line 6 is Eileen Myles.
—line 39 refers to a passage from Kay Gabriel’s book Kissing Other People or the House of Fame, Rosa Press.
—line 43 is in reference to Jeanette Winterson’s book Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Abbra Kotlarczyk

Abbra Kotlarczyk, the winner of the 2022 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize, was raised on Bundjalung Country in the subtropical ruins of a decommissioned banana plantation. She makes art, curates, reads, writes, edits, parents and gardens. Her poetry has appeared in Australian Poetry’s Best of Australian Poems 2021, Cordite Poetry Review, un Magazine, Lieu Journal, Island, Minarets and elsewhere.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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