• Kevin Brophy


Can you ask, she asks, what is an imaginary?
We discuss whether we are on our feet
or in our feet. I try to sense the answer.

In order to begin, the day must break,
broken again, spilling us into light,
into air that draws the lines
around us—with birds outside that urge
the day to break open and open, and open.

With next year’s diary open
on my desk I am rich with the future.


The cat comes to lie
beside me as I work in the garden:

later I can say, sunlight fell
exactly on our garden today
           while I was in it.



We picnic in a ruined forest,
entertained by a waterfall, whole trees
skew-whiff on its broken terraces.

Two years after fires, the birds re-make
this forest, seed by seed, sound by sound.
In one long exhalation the rain
comes down on hills and town and birds and us
who are determined to do our walking here.

The big grey stands up in order to see us.
His ears, large and dark, swivel towards us.
His pale chest in the weak light—his look
to the others who move at once, in loops
across the paddock, easily, routinely.

The sky’s in shreds, and every leaf out here
is twitching. We walk through bush land rucked
like an unmade bed, with the drunken giddy feeling
of being lost. Loose stones on a hillside
make us shuffle like an old suspicious couple.

We recall the young cemetery tree
we saw at Gaffneys Creek,
with flames for flowers, growing
from the head of one of the dead.

Fat Rosellas in a winter tree make brief Christmas bells;
and ants so full of their antness, panic.
The mind, like a sniper, she says, must work
with kill and scare.

Once you start with superlatives, we agree,
it’s close to impossible to know
when to stop, how to stop, whether to stop.



At night, she says, her mind is a city she must shut down.
She will dream she is a visitor to her illness.
Her fever now brings dreams she says
she is incapable of imagining.