Everyday more geckos

By Vita Forest

For the last two weeks

A strange phenomena

A gang of geckos in my classroom.

They march up the walls

Keeping watch over the rubbish bin.

They peer at the whiteboard

Their sticky toes hugging the frame.

Some particularly curious ones watch me work at my computer

They must tell their friends –

Everyday more geckos.

And on the back wall by a Boy table and under the Indigenous language map

An army has appeared

Everyday more geckos

One clings to the clock and listens to its tock

They crawl up the windows

Every size, every colour, every pattern

When will it end?

Everyday more geckos.

We need that girl

By Vita Forest


While carrying a bag of cat litter through the supermarket

I was startled when three pigeons swooped up

the Jams and Spreads Aisle

Over the Fruit and Veg

And across to the Frozen Food section.

 

Three birds!

In this underground supermarket!

Taking off and flying over the shelves in formation

As if migrating together over rows of tall buildings

All the same height.

 

And I thought

How did they get in?

And I thought

How will they get out?

 

And I thought

We need that girl from school

That wide-eyed uncertain girl

peering sideways, talking hesitantly

But she certainly knew what to do

That time on playground duty when a group of breathless girls

Ran to report

A mynah bird in the classroom!

It couldn’t get out!

 

I advised opening blinds and windows

And carefully herding it toward freedom.

But this girl, this uncertain girl

Marched into the classroom

Swooped down on the anxious mynah

Cradled it in her hands

Walked determinedly outside

And released it.

“Wow!” I thought

(“She has chickens,” I was told.)

 

But today

we need that girl again.

In the underground supermarket

Can someone make the announcement on the loudspeaker please?

She is needed in Aisle 12

Near the Frozen Fruit.

 

 

Drowned World

By Vita Forest

In our own worlds

Looking at the hidden worlds in the water 

In the pools left by the sea.

Balancing, bending, picking, choosing, rubbing rocks through finger tips

Standing in a field of shells

Speckling sand

Shards of glass rubbed smooth by the sea

The helmet of a crab 

The tail of a lobster

Beads of seaweed 

Chunks of golden sponge

Hefted lightly in my hand.

Pockets percussive with clattering collections

Watching monumental molluscs move

Millimetre by millimetre

Twisting paths over black boulders 

Water winking in the indents of rocks

Reflecting the sky, the clouds, the light, the face peering down to the flash of opalescence deep down amongst the dark 


A row of molluscs huddled in a crevice

Warrigal greens sprawling over black stones 

Balls of raindrops rolling on the leaves of nasturtiums 

Looking back at the rearing hill with its indents of cow hoofs and the chatter of hidden birds


Through eyes, through camera lenses, through words shouted into the wind and the muttered impressions in my mind

Saving them, holding them til I reach pen and paper, like a handful of sea-smooth stones.

New and Old

By Vita Forest

 

The old ones arrive

dragging feet and

bags full of books and

clothes and shoes and

heavy hearts and

guilt for the heaviness

which makes them lean

even further

into themselves.

 

Up the new stairs

to the new room

the worst room

the room left over when

the other ones were taken

by the new ones

new and shiny

and pretty

and docile

and compliant.

Everything the old are not.

 

You will do this, he says

hands them a broom, a brush, a spade

always some job to fill in the time

while he lies back in his chair in the sun

scratching the dog

under her chin.

 

The new, the pretty watch

offer to help

No, he thunders

Do you know how much I pay?

How much they cost?

They will work.

The new stare

while the old slog away

and wish away the time

and wish they were not wishing it away.

Lex and Ruby

By Vita Forest

 

Springing from the sandstone

Slicing into the water

Fingers first

Feet last

The water cold and clear and shocking.

He pushes it behind him in great armfuls

Hears the pop and fizz of fish chanting in the shadows

The quiet burble of water filling his ears.

 

He erupts from the water

And she watches from the window

Sipping tea, spying.

Enjoying the water streaming off his shoulders

The flick of his head sending the hair off his face

The spout of water he spits from his mouth

Returning it to the harbour.

 

She watches as he strokes off towards the zoo

The spirals of steam stroking her face

Like his hands did

Not long ago.

 

He swims

His eyes at the level of the water

Now above, now below

Rising and dipping

In, out

Air, water

Alternating clarity with blur.

 

Then he sees it

Spinning across the surface

A bobbing brown bulb

A traveller

That fits in the palm of his hand.

 

He sweeps it before him

Bats it, flings it

A ball, a toy, a message in a bottle

A promise.

 

Back on land

Scrambling over mossy rocks in bare feet

Cradling the bulb

Slick and shiny in his fingers

Until under a fall of scarlet crescents

he sees the dark soil.

 

Searching for a stick and

Digs, scrapes, turns up the earth

Pushes in the bulb

Finding it a home.

 

Not knowing what he has sown

A plant, a garden, a love, a tribe, a story

All there

beneath the warm earth.

Some good news from America

By Vita Forest

Though we risk being trampled

By updates on Trump,

The doom that is looming,

The lies, fear, rage, talk of war, catastrophes, down-turns and dire warnings.

 

Yet even now amid the screaming headlines

I find

Good news from America.

 

It seems that

after five years of drought

then welcome winter rain

the hills of California are blooming,

festooned with orange poppies,

waving on the hills

beaming up at the sun

so many of them that they can be seen from Space.

 

Think of those aliens looking down at the tangerine glow

At humans taking time out to wander in fields of flowers

That go on and on

Further than the eye can see

Imagine walking those hills, hands outstretched

Getting lost amongst the beaming, bobbing poppies

Simple pleasures

Lying back and looking up at the blue sky

Sight fringed by golden flowers.

 

And though the world rolls on

And it appears that disaster cannot be avoided,

Remember this is happening now too.

So clutch your bouquet of Californian poppies

Close to your heart.

 

She should be

By Vita Forest

You sat grim-faced in the sunshine

Facing away from the view.

You gave updates on

Your friend’s illness,

Her husband’s wavering mind,

Their fragile son,

Their absent daughter.

 

Your voice rose in indignation

Your neighbour’s arthritis,

The manager’s incompetence,

The man who talks too loud,

The woman who is so fussy,

The friend who is always stopping by

Right on dinner.

 

Look at the boats on the river

The white triangles of the sails – see how they shine!

Sammie turning cartwheels on the grass

The dog snuffling at our feet.

 

Rosa says she couldn’t go away, you say

Too many bookings to look after the grandkids

Couldn’t possibly manage it,

Couldn’t possibly.

 

She could just say No!

Does she even want to go?

 

And Thea in that big house

can’t manage

will have to sell.

If she isn’t stressed now

She should be.

 

But you are healthy and Rosa too

and Rosa’s husband

You can still do what you like.

 

Yes my foot is better

Yes I saw the sails

And the rain has stopped falling, But

Did you know?  Did I tell you?

Your childhood friend

That laughing boy

Dead.  Dead now.

Terribly sad.

Alcohol.  Drugs.  Divorce.  Hadn’t seen his kids in

Years.

Moved back in with his Mum – no friends

Dead.

 

No I hadn’t heard.

A glint of triumph

I am silenced remembering that freckled boy.

 

Then Sammie comes and leans against me

slings her arm across my shoulder

blows a butterfly-kiss on my earlobe

and the sails still shine in the sun

and the wind breathes its warm breath on my cheek.