The Forgotten Moth

Gentle moth, dull and plain,

Discrete amidst the night blooms

Heavy with fragrant nectars

That breathe into her grace.

Little more than powdered air,

Crepe wings dust pollen kisses

At the slightest touch,

But are so easily crushed.

She longs for luminousity:

Pale white evening flowers

And the glowing glass stars,

Yet is condemned to dark nights.

So inoffensive,

Her life of service lies

At the mercy of many:

Pursued, snatched, torn apart.

What beauty here has been forgotten?

 

*All photos by Sara.

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A.F.R.I.C.A

A path to freedom is often discovered on broken wings.

For it is through loss and being stripped to the bone of our raw humanness that we discover what we really are, what we can do.

Reaching out for something that seems less than what we have…and yet is so much more.

It is real, a way of life that remembers what life is, and grasps it with the talons of an eagle.

Cry no more, little birds, you are who you are, feel what you feel, go where the wind takes you.

And it is time to fly again.

Storm Song

*Photographs by me.

Where are our friends this year?
We miss their presence
Because they are late arriving,
It’s not the same without them.

These hot days cling to our skins!
When I walk with wind, there is gratitude,
But even the air is dry.
We move slowly,
This season is a slow time,
But alive with a joyfulness
And anticipation.
We wait for them.
We know they will come,
But this year, they are late.

Crisp leaves hang low
On the drooping arms of trees.
Sometimes the rain falls,
Only for a precious moment,
Just enough to quench
The desperation of thirst,
But not the thirst itself.
The dryness of my skin and mouth
Feels like the dryness of those leaves.
One month, two months, three now…
Where are our friends?
When will they come?
It’s not the same without them.

I have found dead birds…
The water of their bodies
Sucked dry.
The kookaburra stares at me,
At the bird,
But he does not call:
He hasn’t seen the black cockatoo,
Or our friends,
He is waiting too.
The frog people do not call.
Bats leave the skies
To dip their bellies and swim
In shrinking waters.
Where are our friends this year?
When will we see them again?

On an unexpected day,
They arrive.
It is late, but they have come.
At first we are still,
Waiting in anticipation
As the thunder rumbles purple
and the lightning hisses
Like snakes in the sky above.
Everyone is still.
Kookaburra calls.
The skies open,
And we greet our friends,
The storm people.
They are late,
But they have come at last.

The shimmer of magic
Moves across the water
As rain greets river,
The rise and fall of
Vibrant voices
Singing from liquid bodies.
They share stories
That only summer storms know,
This rain is itself,
Not winter rain, or spring or autumn.
They are themselves.
This rain cools the burning,
This rain washes away
The sticking heat,
Replacing the water of my body
With its own.
Welcome rain and cloud,
You have come at last
With thunder and lightning.

We can smell the change –
Plants and soil greet the storm
With aromas kept special
For these days.
Every day, you can smell the trees,
But not like this.
This is a language they speak
Only in the summer heat,
And this song
They sing with the storm
For all to hear in their nostrils.
At first, the trees are still,
Drinking into their roots.
But then, the wind sheds its dryness
And joins the song
Dancing, swirling
Into branch, leaf,
Feather, water, skin.
The land rejoices
As the heat sighs itself
Into moisture and scent,
Cool and refreshing…
We welcome our friends,
There is much joy
To see them again.

Welcome summer friends,
We have sorely missed you
And are glad you came.
The whole family
Is relieved to see you again,
Watch how the galahs play
And hear the frog people call.
Magpies stay out in the rain,
We stand together
Beneath the singing sky –
Songs of purple thunder
And hissing snakes of light.
We are wet with rain
And the scents of trees,
Magpie shuffles it into his feathers.
I step into a puddle.
Kookaburra calls.
Black cockatoo flies overhead.
You are late getting here,
But now you have come,
Welcome, summer friends.

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The Butter Tree

*All photographs by me.

Nights beneath the butter tree,

Days so hot and nights set free;

Leather wings flap over me,

The foxy-bats in ecstasy.

Golden blooms of nectar sweet,

Perfume released by the heat,

Offer wing’d foxes a devilish treat

In the boughs above my seat.

Chirping echoes from the tree,

Their voices calling down to me

Announcing hungry rivalry,

Each flower guarded jealously!

Bickering with sounds of fright

Over the bounty in the height,

Featherless wings take to flight,

Vanishing into the summer night.

*A poem about the flying foxes that used to feed in the tree in my garden many years ago. I have always been fascinated by bats, but these guys really take the cake for enchanting the soul with a thick, rich sweetness that drips. I highly recommend the writings of Deborah Bird Rose about this “odd little kinsman“. So vilified are these ecologically critical more-than-human friends that I wonder with a lot of apprehension and concern what the future holds for them. The fate of so many lives and communities – including our own – are intimately wrapped up and entangled with flying fox lives. If ever you feel the call of flying fox magic, there is nothing I enjoy more in summer than watching the flying fox camp fly out, it’s amazing. You learn so much from watching them, like your mind emerges with the bats, fresh and new and ready. Sometimes I wonder if any of the little guys I have cared for are in there, and how they are doing. Good luck little friends!

One of my Grey Headed Flying Fox friends enjoying her favourite food: nectar!

One of the flying foxes forcibly removed from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, and another of my friends – an orphaned pup rescued from a colony in heat distress. Human disturbance and persecution, along with the impacts of climate change continue to be big challenges to the flourishing of Flying Fox lives.

 

 

Dingo/Dog Dualisms

*Featured Image by Francesca Domestici. 

*A poem about binary thinking and the chains of rigidity that bind us to them, restricting our freedom to encounter beyond the constructed beyond. For those unfamiliar with Australian wildlife, it may be helpful to know that dingoes and domestic dogs frequently ‘hybridise’, and this has been a contentious issue. In particular, the supposed dilution of the ‘native dingo’ alongside a contrasting view that the dingo did not evolve on the continent, and thus is brought into question as a qualifiable native animal, despite studies showing a strong evolutionary adaptivity between dingoes and other Australian wildlife

Both of these views demonise and illegitimate the dingo in some way, an offensive logic that creates a dingo/dog dualism similar to other binary thinking such as male/female, rational/emotional, mind/body, white/black, etc. As such, the use of the dingo and dog as metaphors for this poem seemed fitting.

“They say you have to take a dog with you when you cross between settlements – in case of dingo”.

– Spoken by an Aboriginal boy who I conversed with in a dream.

Between two places,
They say we cannot go;
Beyond two faces,
We’re not supposed to show.
More here than
Just us,
Yet less here than
Justice –
Tell me, what do we really know?

Take all that you ever knew,
Like a loyal dog, familiar to you.
Hold him tightly by his chain
So he may never cause you pain.
Make it his task to defend against intrusion,
So you may keep safe your Masterful illusion.

But as you cross between those places
And encounter all the different faces,
Clever Dingo lies in wait
To play a trick on his domestic mate.
Dingo lives with many creatures
And learns from these different teachers,
Dingo listens to what each on says
Then embraces hybrid ways.
He says, “Dog, why are you on that chain
And by your Master restricted again?
You cross quickly between these two places,
Snarling at these othered faces,
But they’re not so different to you and me
And everything is better with diversity”.

The Dog he sighed, “I have no choice
But to obey my Master’s voice.
This is how I have been taught to live,
All my loyalty to my Master I give.
Dingo, I am not like you,
I think and do what I am told to”.

At this, Dingo scoffed and laughed,
His domestic friend was being daft.
“Dog, in spirit we are one and the same,
Different, really, only in human name.
Sure, we live in different ways,
And our biologies were born on different days.
But our differences are what make us strong,
Not something to be considered broken or wrong.
The world is bleak in black and white,
But nourishing in colours bright.
You’re in me, and I’m in you,
There’s more to this than we ever knew!
Come on, my friend, slip out of that chain,
Let me introduce you to the world again”.

But although the dog wanted to go,
He hung his head and whispered, “no,
To my loyalty I am bound,
I cannot let my Master down.
Even if I do not agree,
This oppressor’s chain is my sad destiny.
But I will remember the things you have said,
And place them in my Master’s head.
Perhaps in time like seeds they’ll grow
And Dingo wisdom will begin to show,
Blooming like a brilliant flower
Whose scent is sweeter than the Master’s power.
This, Dingo, is my pledge to you,
It’s the best that I can do”.

Dingo smiled and without a sound
Nodded at the chain lying on the ground.
Dog was stunned, it couldn’t be,
He hadn’t noticed that at last he was free!
“Stay with your Master, but by your own choice,
And live by the power of your own special voice;
Snarl less at strangers, instead welcome new friends,
And show your Master clearly where his own knowledge ends.
Crossing between these two empty places
Holds no future, no life, no faces.
Instead, take your Master for walks outside,
You are no longer his possession, but rather his guide”.

With the words of Dingo alive in his heart,
Dog wakes you, his Master, and prepares to depart.
“Dog,” you say, “I feel different today,
Why don’t we try walking another way?”
So excited is Dog by your words
That he runs around barking, startling the birds.
With a lighter step than ever before,
You and Dog close up your old door
And set out afresh to see who you might find,
Not noticing you’ve left the dog’s chain behind.

15 Aspie Observations

*Featured picture is a self-portrait from 2004.

1.

The wet dog

Shakes off his frustrations.

2.

Slow-motion sunlight,

Back and forth…back and forth.

3.

Pigeon, pigeon, pigeon, potato.

4.

Dead bird sticking to the pavement:

How long have your eggs been cold?

5.

I cannot hear the silence.

6.

Diamonds in the tiles; gnomes in the bricks;

Patterns in the weave of my skin.

7.

Meow! Arrf? Mooooo!!

To this, I relate.

8.

There is no such thing as an appropriate time to dance.

So just dance.

9.

Caution: bumble bee.

10.

Like lovers, I complete the sentences in his adoring eyes:

My dog and I.

11.

The disgusting swirl

Of a coffee tongue.

12.

One day, I imagine Spock will return for his things.

Until then, the uniform is mine.

13.

Anna kissed an anarchist;

Anne drew Andrew.

14.

I love you,

But please don’t touch me.

15.

AMAZING!!!

Blank faces.

Dissect-Elect-Rode-Nts

*All photographs by me.

Cold steel point
Razor sharp
Shaved belly flesh
Dotted line
Sliced down the middle
Scrape, pop & tear,
Tissue comes apart
With a silent meow.Chatterbox chimp
Electroshock
Amazing results
Inconclusive
Wait with fear
Wait for death
Long for death
With fear of life.

Mechanical scientist
Wind up key
Jammed behind
Clapping hands
In time to the screams…
The monkey pounds,
Let me out
The monkey pounds…
Let me out.

*As some of you know, my background was in biological sciences, and I am also a fan of rats as companions. Needless to say, I struggled monumentally with the concept of laboratory animals, and several of my rat family were rescued test subjects. This poem is based on a horrible nightmare I had one night during the long, hard-fought road towards being not only exempt without penalty from unnecessary dissection classes, but also from being allowed to utilise alternatives like the ‘mechanical rat‘ technology that is required to be made available to all objecting biology students at all levels of study (click here for further advice and the law). This technology is based on a single rat dissection where all angles were meticulously photographed and videoed in order to compile an interactive ‘mechanical rat’ program, nullifying the need to use real rats for non-veterinary educational purposes. Prior to this technology, refusing to dissect on moral grounds meant either not gaining the knowledge, failing the class, or both. Having access to this technology ensures that I can still be included and engaged in biology studies without having to compromise my personal ethics. I was one of only two students in my cohort to utilise the technology, but I hope that more students come to understand that first year biology students do not need to dissect…it is unnecessary to exact a toll on so many rodent lives when perfectly good, efficient replacement technology exists for this purpose.

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Glitch was the first former lab rat to join my piRATe crew. He’s also my special little guy. Glitch is completely blind.
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He doesn’t like other rats or humans, just me and the teddy bears. He experiences a lot of fear and stress as a result of his former life, but once you have his trust, he’s a big smoocher.
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Willow Bee is one of the former lab rats who joined my piRATe crew.
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She has an amazing sense of humour and likes licking anything made of metal! She also enjoys dancing on her hind legs to Godsmack and Disturbed, and leaping at the television screen in protest to the Simpsons finishing.