POEM: Bucket list

Performed as part of Common Ground 2014, Multicultural Arts Victoria

I was there when you were born.

I watched as your nomadic mother

lifted her bulging skirts

right up to her waist.

And from between thighs weary from carrying you and your brothers

slipped a million droplets of perspiration;

as her body heaved and moaned

and thunder jolted across her face.

I was there when you were born,

racing my sister down pot-holed roads where bits of you had gathered,

clapping at us with every

skip, leap and thud

as we

ran as far away from the winds that carried our mother’s voice

until she 

too was drowned by the smell of the wet eucalypts and the tymballic roar of cicadas that heralded your arrival.

At last we found you,

your large muddied frame

enclaved by ba wu that mused melodies of your dreaming.

Catching our breath, we

creep up to your edges,

and peer into your sleepy face.

Jarred colours stare back at us,

stretching lined shadows,

still yet ever moving,

transforming our yellow gumboots

into Picasso cockatoos.

Children of the rain, we 

draw stories along your shallow beds,

shapeshifting your body into endless characters

watching them glide,

guided by our pinocchio strings

and fireflies that light up your horizons.

Children of the rain, we

take turns plunging

into your awaiting arms

as you

splash war paint on our faces

as you

yell at us to jump harderrun faster, fly higher

again and again,

until the world sings with our laughter.

I was there when you were born,

but now,

now I do not remember your name,

nor recognise your face;

your lessons I have forgotten.

Now when I feel the earth shake

under your mother’s feet,

I stay in my bed,

deafened by the white hum of my screen,

waiting for you to leave.

Now when the cicadas sing,

I hasten my footsteps

lest I see your muddied face,

scared of what lies underneath your porous depths;

my vision blinkered by plastic,

so that in my dusty world,

you have become an endangered species

cordoned off with yellow tape that screams:




In giving up on you,

I know

that I have



given up on myself.


For you were there when I was born,

and you alone know the waterholes of my being.

In your silence,

I yearn to hear the sound of gumboots racing along

pot-holed roads,

where bits of you have gathered,

clapping and cheering with

every skip, leap and thud of my feet,

so loudly that I can not ignore your laughter.

In your engulfing absence,

I now rip at the dullness of my yellow tape,

defacing its cautions, I scream the word ‘Jump!

and trust that you

will be there to catch me,


and again,

and again. 


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