I picked some self-sown violets
from my driveway edge this morning
they were wet with rain

entwined with the stems
of wild sarsaparilla—
unopened buds purple at the tips

each year this vine re-grows
despite the pruning and digging
of heavy handed men

each spring
I recall a viewing of Dogwoods
the agent’s smile fading

as our faces dimmed
with the sad aura
of the musty brick villa

I stood in the doorway…
so few rooms—were they
as cold and stale then as now?

tessellated tiles on the verandah,
cracked and broken from years of riding
this travelling clay soil

wooden-framed screen doors
closed against insects
the faint echo of a wheeze

in the beige, fifties kitchen
where night by night the words of Tree of Man
struggled for air

twenty years before my teacher
tried to interpret the great grey ordinariness
in a hot concrete classroom

looking for plot
in the bushfire, the flood, the fortitude
of the Australian everyman

when all the time the action
was in the blade of grass, the milk bucket, the fly
and a thousand unseen stars

twinkling beneath a heaving ribcage
answering the flicker of their celestial counterparts
in the wheeling, uncommunicative sky

© Julie Thorndyke



She looked down at her hands,
which were itching as if swollen with fluid,
and calmly saw

that there were thick, green, finger-sized caterpillars
with pointy, raised, pale-yellow dots
protruding from their backs,

emerging from her skin,
rising like veins transposed into a different
key of flesh—

like drops of sweat
they formed,
rose and dropped away
from her wrists,
her hands and forearms,
only to be followed
by another,
and another,

until her whole arm
seemed to be nothing but

a fat squirming caterpillar and the room
in which she and the poet conversed
nothing more than a greenhouse

surging with foliage
and dripping
with the moisture
of primitive life.

Julie Thorndyke