Here are the crumbs you left me,
fallen on floorboards in a line
that leads to the closed front door.
Here is the softness that’s come
over me, the swollen tenderness
bruising at the slightest touch.
There are the cards you hold
in your hand, cryptic. Someone
wrote to me using the word
quicksand and I reeled from it.
I tear at cuticles, the edges of
skin bleed. A friend said still,
you keep bobbing up to the surface,
you’re still swimming. And that’s true,
but who wants the love of their life –
their life – summed up as quicksand?
I head out the front door. I leave
a trail so you can find me.
Suddenly a black cow outside a fence
a strange strangled sound everywhere
all the cows calling I stop singing
an ancient knowing in its old eyes
I see how it watches as I move past
careful and slow leave it standing there
forgotten till dinner when I tell Joseph
he pushes peas and gravy aside
rushes out in the black night searching
It’s not one of ours. But they’re bloody expensive,
you know. I don’t know. The closest I come is roast.
I am a city girl frightened of a cow outside a fence.
I see the streets of Spain where the bulls ran
butting backpackers, an Australian
or two, the bulls gone mad and let loose.
Creatures are capable of anything.
Then the next day along that same road
up ahead four horses trotting along then grazing
and slow then quick shadows that seem like people
surely that’s a small frame a girl in jodphurs a cap
tiny beside the horses. I keep to the side of the road
as the chestnut veers towards me as if it might nuzzle
and say hello or never stop but go right through me
and I hold my breath keep walking the way you do
with dogs never show fear I’m not sure about horses
but it turns in another direction just before it nears
it turns away from me heading straight ahead
so that the others look up and canter to catch up
with this one who has somewhere to go.
Two women in a ute at a snail pace
with a window down slow as they near
Are you looking for horses?
One has wild hair exhausted eyes a hard face
up too early or too long and now I speak
like a local with my knowledge of territory.
They’re up McNamara’s Road – the next road
to the left. It’s as if she’s never heard of it
can’t quite work out what I mean her lost face
I point she nods and they’re gone and now
I wish I took that extra moment to ask
where they’d come from those horses,
heading down the road so far from home
and where they’re going.