chorus of crows


When she saw Top Camp
(humpies made of corrugated iron/slabs of bark
people and dogs living together
children   discharge running from nostrils/ears
like sewage seeping from the broken pipes next door)
she didn’t wince.
She learnt to overlook the rubbish
caught on broken fences
blown by westerlies that brought the dust
and the haunting sound of crows through
every crack.

When she met Topsy
(her husband used a star picket
punished her tribal way even though everyone knew
that whitefella contractor got the better of her)
she didn’t faint.
It wasn’t the first time she’d seen human flesh
open to the bone or held the hand of a woman
being stitched up.
Outside the clinic the crows seemed to sing
that white man
long gone.

When the Land Council mob
said no to a drink in the back bar
(the publican would only lace
their beer with Worcestershire Sauce
customers would stare/whisper behind cupped hands)
she bought a carton.
They sat in the yard yarning and laughing
at the crows as they burnt their beaks
scavenging for scraps
on the barbecue
hot plate.

An extract from K A Nelson’s poem ‘Chorus of Crows’, winner of the 2010 Overland Judith Wright Poetry prize for New and Emerging Poets.

Hat tip, Mat A.

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