Contemporary Australian Poetry

AT THE SUMMIT by Ross Jackson

 After a Moment on Film by Lucy Dougan

Deviation Road

by Rachael Mead


after Emily Bitto


Ask yourself – when have you ever been free?

The question pressures within you like an infected sinus

as you drive through the loose curls of mid-morning

frustration clotted in your gut,

seething between your clenched teeth.

How do you swallow the barbed truth of never

that you had been trying to disavow

like the gradual tightening of your favourite jeans?


You drive that thin-spooled bitumen

throwing yourself into the scene as if it was momentous.

This speed, this road meaning something more

than the last hundred-something times.

This crest, your life opening out

as you hurtle over, eyes screwed shut,

like idiocy grants ownership,

like survival is more than luck.


Gut in the backseat, you plummet

over the lip and into the tight-wooded valley

but not even gravity will give you up.

The road keeps looping forward

in its yesterday way

shackling you to the same destination

with a kindness belying its hard authority.

Cows watch you from their shared destiny

as you swallow hard, hit the brake

and take the barb deeper inside

hoping that for a few more quiet hours

you won’t feel the jag.

Previously published in The Stinging Fly issue 26/vol 2 Winter 2013-14 pg 42, Dublin Ireland

Rachael Mead is a South Australian writer and poet. She’s had two collections of poetry published and was awarded Varuna’s Dorothy Hewett Fellowship for Poetry in 2011 and 2015. When not in rehab for her addictions to op-shopping and bookshops, Rachael lives in the Adelaide Hills with her partner and animals. You can find her at