Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Jennifer Harrison

KAKADU

I
below skirts of dead leaves
pandanus fray
into “knock  im down season”

speargrass fires
burn across the plains
the first clouds of the wet yet to gather

a smashed guano
of insects smears the windscreen
of the red Suzuki cruiser

and birds of prey high in the sky
hover over the souls of bones
bleaching inside the Kakadu gates

 

II
the banana plantations
near Humpty Doo burn carefully
filling the sky with smoke

and when we stop to buy mangoes
sunlight has carved wombs into trees
the fruit ripening in late September

at Bark Hut
the emu’s copper-blue throat gleams
hard and scraggy as the soil

and like a forest of black cheroots
an acre of sooty-trunked woollybutts
stretches finitely away

 

III
Cathedrals of the North:
the termite mounds are silent at matins—
nothing here that Douglas Stewart

did not notice:
the caves of painted hands, those hands
in the black rock, like hands in a grave

here, my son photographs the billboards
—what are you doing? I ask
Not disturbing the wildlife he replies

Kakadu night:
a barn owl swoops our car, swoops again
catching moths in the headlights