Return to Wingham Brush


You stroll under the dense canopy,

returning to where the flying foxes take their ease,

your winsome guide light-on-her-feet,

a sun-burnt ember unprepared for her own perfection.

Once again you are traveling through old territory,

where the dung-striped roots fulminate and decay,

and forty years ago this week

you drained a case of Flag Ale.

The Strangler Figs rise like pillars in a great temple,

while the sheltered multitudes, suspended high above,

fan themselves through the flies and heat, peering down

with their unblinking gaze, fixed and fluorescent in the gloom.

Your guide leads you up a path in the euphoria of the twilight,

telling you of her rigorous voice training,

of how she hopes to tour Europe with its promise of liberation,

much to her father’s discontent.

One by one the flying foxes take flight above their sanctuary,

holding roll call and whispering their secrets,

forming into an ascending spiral

while your guide shares the tale of how they hung Jimmy Governor.

The undulating shadow gathers momentum in the dusk,

a wavy line breaking off and stretching away as far as you can see,

a crooked truth swinging in the dark,

melting into time’s hazy, immeasurable distances.

Overwhelmed by what you have witnessed, you sit in silence,

wondering if she knows about Jimmy’s wife, of how over the years

our choices define us, with mothers losing track of daughters

and best friends parting company, their marriages gone awry.

Do you dare tell her that we are the thuggish agents of desire,

the opaque instruments of all we have left undone,

our story but an extension of so many imperfections,

guided by the cruel infinity loop of our persistent dreams?

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