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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Special Australian Edition August 2023
Entangled, poem by Simone King.
Our dream-soft bodies wake to an ambered world.
Fires raze the range, smoke oranges the air.
On the south coast, our friends sit in soot and smoulder,
finger-sifting the flaked remains of their home.
My baby and I are safe here for now in this bush city,
rinsing bloody traces of the cord that tethered us.
Rescue workers on the news cradle charred koalas
as she drinks us both into a milk haze. I float
on oxytocin waves, free for a moment from worrying
about her spent inheritance. This grief has no geography.
It’s here in the sick air we siphon, it’s weaving south
through banksias to a beach ambushed under a sap
red sky. Later, we won’t just visit grief like a town
we lived in for a while. It will be part of us, the way
Witchetty grub tracks etch under gum bark. And how,
even outside our chrysalis of skin, we still turn in –
my nipple, her lips. Her feathered head in my hands.
As she sleeps in my lap, I learn the map of her chest
with my fingertips, divining the conch of her ribcage,
a pulsing heart and her lungs, porous and pink as morning.
Note: ‘Grief has no geography’ and ‘visit grief like a town
we lived in for a while’ are phrases from Felicity Plunkett’s poem ‘With’.
© Simone King
Simone King (she/her) is a poet, editor and policy adviser living on Wurundjeri country, Naarm/Melbourne. Simone’s words have been published in Best of Australian Poems 2022; Rabbit; Cordite; Plumwood Mountain and Mascara Literary Review’s 2002 Resilience anthology. Simone won the 2022 Blake Poetry Prize and the 2021 Woorilla Poetry Prize. She coedited What We Carry: Poetry on Childbearing, Recent Work Press, 2021 and has performed her poetry at Sydney Writers’ Festival and Queensland Poetry Festival.