talking bird

the talking bird
      to Jack Le Baige


for years
you told the story
we’d already taken
well to heart,
fed like a cat
under the table
with our imaginings.

the tasman dark
with rain, the swell
skittering along
the shore.
the rivermouth
could’ve been the
night you’d just
woken from.

you were running
for school
in the shower’s
edge, the drops
gaining heavier,
heavier on the
breeze, cloud
doing away with
the hills over
the weatherboard

you were passing
the gate, the white
porch set back
from the gouged road
when you heard it:
‘don’t get wet, jack!’
‘don’t get wet, jack!’
the parrot stood out
on the verandah,
a dream brought fresh
out into day.
colours, feathers
unlikely as jungle
or sailor’s story.
you kept running,
never forgot it.

sixty years
of storm at sea,
thunder down in the
high-country you
watched over.
you made it
in the end
without even walking.
carried on through
in your eye.

are now with
that bird,
the miners’ hills,
the rain that
strips them down
to gold

october 1989

Copyright ©1989 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved

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