SaltBush

Last year dogs chased a roo from scrub to sea
The joey drowned, caught in wet fur.

She thinks of this now, as he follows
His cock dangles flaccid
She hastens, seaweed sluicing along wet legs
It drapes crisper on the fence wires above the tide line
Rusting steel to restrain trampling into fragile dunes
There, salt leaves tremble in the hot sun
She watches him settle there, flattening
Purple flowers and meek silver grass

She lifts her phone to take a snap & catches his grin
This ruse had worked before - the smoking man
Flicking the butt toward her, DNA traces on stained fibre.
He asked if she liked it there - she felt queasy at once.

Now, she sees the purple molluscs tugged on cuttlefish rafts
Stowaways, they will be rescued at least
She imagines the dogs barking, the frenzied splashing
In her mind she readies: kicks, punches and screams.
The insects swarm in the saltbush.


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This is an edit of a poem I'd written a year or so back on HIVE. I'd gone looking for it because I'd read a comment on an online community group that said that this morning two young girls approached a woman and her partner and while they were gardening in the front yard and said that a man had been watching them intently, as they were walking through the streets. It frightened them enough to ask two total strangers for help. The couple walked them home, and although the husband went looking, he couldn't find anyone. It always upsets me that this is often part of girl's experiences - to feel uncomfortable and threatened by men. We all have those stories in our lives. Sometimes it's just a creepy feeling that something isn't quite right, and that we need to be on guard.

In the end I edited quite a bit - there was a lot of fluff, and I wanted to pare it down a little - less description of the beauty of the landscape and more the threat. I'm happier with it now. I almost completely rearranged the thing, and got rid of a lot of lines and phrases that I liked, but were cluttering things up. I think I pretty much shaved off half the poem, but less is more, as they say. It feels sharper now, somewhat. Everytime I read this poem I feel uneasy and unsettled, but it captures a moment I've lived more than once, walking on lonely beaches.

With Love,

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