Stretching rainbows

By Vita Forest

Sitting under hats around the table

Blindingly silver in the sunlight

Waiting for the ripening buds of leaves

to burst into green shade

Two ten year-old girls creep closer

Slatted against tree trunks

Pressing their grins into calloused bark

Stifling laughter

Remembering them at six, at seven

When their mouths held gaps and Tahlia astonished

with her description

of a dog’s soft wet nose

And their two heads bent over a stretch of rainbow

Building waves of red and yellow and green

When their hair was longer

And their legs were shorter

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Domain concert

By Vita Forest

Remember hanging upside down

sweat blooming behind our knees

hair a trailing shadow flame

hands trailing the ground in surrender?

The fig leaves have heavy bodies

Snap when you bend them

snap and spray

They have solid reliable edges

Like the bats

journeying above us

black umbrellas darting  over

pink seashell sky

I lie back on the picnic blanket

and watch them as fireworks glitter overhead

and ants get drunk

in forgotten gulps of champagne

There’s a poem in that

By Vita Forest

There’s a poem in

The way we hate vegemite

And the way others don’t

The excuses she makes for missing

every single meeting

The vibrating cat that sits perched on my lap

Like a humming loaf

The scarlet red of the flowers on the coral tree and

the way they fall apart if you remove them from the tree

The smiling girl in the photo who just last week

tried to kill herself

The rock that you step over on the path

In the shape of a heart

The shriek as we leap the channel surging back to the sea

And land heavy-heeled in the retreating water

The light patter of rain

On the hood of my new black raincoat

The bowl full of  shells

That sits in the middle of the table.

Poems

everywhere.

Meditation

By Vita Forest

In the quiet of the afternoon

after the children have left

I glance up and see

the movement of the sunlight

piercing the branches

of the wind-tossed trees

streaking over my head

onto the stripes of the hanging dress

the dress my daughter wore

when she was nine

the light swivelling and dancing

in time with the jangle of the wind

bucking through the trees

 

Blue Gum (for Lucy)

By Vita Forest

Where you enter

we heard

The angry screeches of white cockatoos

Glimpsed white flashes wheeling in the blue sky

above the silver-trunked treetops

Watched as they swung around and about and around again

As we descended into green shade

You may hear the sound of six species of frogs

And we did

or at least we heard one

singing its percussive scraping

as we picked our way beside the creek

over mossy rocks and

fretted roots aslant

under the lacy shelters of tree ferns

Continue straight to where a track comes in from the left

and follow the blue wren

It was the blue wren that showed us the way

The hop of the wren along the dried spikes of grass

The scratch of the bush turkey in the undergrowth

And down in a dappled gully

A warbling chorus of currawongs

Across the bridge, stop for lunch

Sitting cross-legged by the river and

pinching a peck of grated carrot

on a smattering of grated beetroot

laid on the soft spongy whiteness of

the halved baguette piled with shards of

cheese and khaki rounds of

pickles and leaves of

lettuce and slivers of

translucent cucumber closed between

the covers of two golden crusts

and two rows of teeth.

At the first junction

Walking past the facilities and

missing the ghostly W

that means the girls enter

at the door marked OMEN and

Return to the start of the walk.

Everyone has problems

By Vita Forest

They listen holding breath

to a tale about a convict boy

No older than they

Crawling up a smouldering chimney

Into blackness

                                           Into nightmare

                                                          Scraping off the soot

Feet calloused and cut

Stomach growling

Eyes squinting into the

grimy yellow smog of daylight

waiting for the day

when he’ll be too big to shimmy

and crawl and worm his way through

the secret innards of other people’s houses

Til he’s stuck

til he’s sold again

til he’s out of luck

We close that book

Let out our breath

and open another

And they complain

about the tracing

and the posture

and the pain

in their fingers from holding

the pencil

Handwriting is hard

Almost as hard as being a chimney sweep in eighteenth century London? I suggest

They stare and nod

Yes.

Tai-chi and Tennis rackets

By Vita Forest

Leap from the bed

Roll up the blinds

Release the felines into the day

 

Opening shutters and children’s doors

Shadowed by jogging cats

Tails held high

 

While crossing the drawbridge with my daughter

We stop at the scratch! scratch!

from the place where the moat would be

If we had one

 

Instead, a brush turkey in the garden bed

Sorting twigs and leaves and straw

Raking claws, giving me pause

On the way to the garage

 

Rousing the engine

rolling up the drive

Hovering, humming, hanging for my son

He tears down the path

 

Barefoot in Winter

Carrying bag and shoes and

That navy jacket he just will not wear in the flat

To save it from the white fur of the cat

The bane of his existence.

 

We roll through streets

Talking music and homework and dance and

plans for the weekend

 

Toes are pressed into shoes

Arms are threaded into jackets

Pockets are checked for keys and phones and

I plan the evening meal

In my head.

 

They leap out at the station

And I wish for a red light

So I might stop a moment

At the railway

 

Long enough to see

The elderly couple

in tracksuits and fleecy vests

Dancing

 

As they practise

Tai chi with tennis rackets

Balls tossed over shoulders

caught again in unison

 

Swinging back and forth

Again and again

On the well-oiled tracks

Of their knees.