No wind when I push off in the canoe
the water easy against the hull
I paddle to the far side, past the flooded fence posts
and drift watch through the reeds and grasses
as the black swans teach their young,
the white belly of the sea eagle
a warning high in the woollybutts
then the nor’-easter strong and quick
and I try to paddle back nosing out past the point
again and again blown back useless in the two man canoe
you’re alone in the camp
your father gone to town
and then I see you red cap just visible
taking strides as big as you can
through the long grass not thinking of snakes
you’ve seen my distress and left the parachutes you’re making
for your soldiers
your small voice shouting now against
do you need some help?
and all the world and beyond travels
to me in that sound
I let the canoe blow back into the bank and you climb into the bow
hunch your light frame
into the effort of the paddle
leaning out into the wind as it slaps around the point
determined to tip the balance.
© Genevieve Osborne.
‘Bunga Lagoon’ first appeared in Meanjin, Vol.66.2, 2007.