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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Special Australian Edition August 2023
Eagles’ Dance, poems by Jo Lyons.
What would it feel like
to float together on the wind,
soaring with slow deep beats
of the wing on warm currents
of air, whirling away from
the world we know—
or think we do—to one
where we can always be
our true feathered selves,
soft and light, dipping
and diving, circling each
other in the climb to new
heights, weaving invisible
patterns through the sky
beyond anyone else’s reading,
taking turns to guide the other
ever higher, further, forever
I lead you follow now
you lead I follow
in a constant dance
among the clouds
Aubade to Home
I wake up with poetry in my head,
see my currawong swing into the pine tree.
I saw it knock feathers off a rainbow
lorikeet yesterday and keep flying.
I have only three weeks left in this house;
I sit on my perfect balcony,
just the birds and me—drinking Irish tea
out of my favourite green bird cup, Owly.
To sleep, to dream, to keep the dream in reach,
to quote Kae Tempest riffing on old Shakespeare.
I don’t think I’ve woken up yet, even
though I’ve had a whole lifetime to practise.
Sun hits the pines, the currawong lets out a song.
Cicadas chime in, thinking summer’s come;
they have another think coming—the rain
will be back, and here to stay.
Cicadas don’t want to know, start in stereo.
A plane rumbles overhead, they’re back again.
Currawong zips in and snaps the loudest
cicada in its beak—a moment’s silence
from its peers as they decide what to do.
After a beat they carry on, seem
to have learnt nothing from experience.
Another plane flies in low, another train pulls up
nearby at the station. We keep repeating
the stuff from before but the old world
is gone, the whole earth on borrowed
time, yet we keep moving.
Follow the birds
On Minnamurra Lane
Tune into the birds, you’d said, or something like it;
they told me to get in touch with you but I don’t know how.
Do I take wing and fly over, land on the doorstep, knock on
your pane? Clouds I can read better, I can’t decipher chatter.
I rise up the hill on the scent of cinnamon hay for answers.
Can lorikeets deliver my messsage? Too brash, such racket.
The friarbird in the coral tree? Its monstrous face alarms me.
Could the eastern rosellas do it: just three sweet tweets.
Not ducks, can do without quacks; silvered notes fall
on me, grey fantails flitting too fast for me to catch.
Up the top, I just let go. Blossoms alight on branches;
the lane holds such treasure but turn around and the hills
roll over to the sea in true green pleasure, as toy cows
cast slant shadows from gentle sun on velvet grass.
Come down south! We’ll glide along the coast where kestrels
wait for you on carved posts, welcoming you to Wodi-Wodi
and Dharawal land. We’ll enter rainforest, give out some sassafras,
stem the leaves of bleeding hearts, chase lyrebird tail and song.
A sudden whip cracks in the gully fringed with frog creaks – a whipbird
in the light glow zinging over pigeon’s whomping bass note.
Then once, the call is answered: the reply ends in beautiful shatter
through the air, tinkling like glass. You just need to be there.
I soar back down the lane, turn my own beak northwards.
© Jo Lyons
Jo Lyons is a poet, artist and editor. Born and raised in Wollongong, New South Wales, she now lives and works on Gadigal land, Sydney. She has worked as an editor for leading Australian publishers and institutions, including Allen & Unwin, Pan Macmillan, the Powerhouse Museum and Sydney University Press. Jo has worked with a wide range of authors and creatives such as Bruce Pascoe, Vanessa Berry, Delia Falconer, Samuel Wagan Watson, Akira Isogawa, Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. Her poetry was shortlisted for the 2023 Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award and has been featured in Cordite Poetry Review. Jo is currently working on a poetry-photography collaboration with photographer Riste Andrievski for the group exhibition Visions of the Illawarra to be held at Wollongong Art Gallery in 2024.