Contemporary Australian Poetry
AT THE SUMMIT by Ross Jackson
After a Moment on Film by Lucy Dougan
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 http://rachaelmead.com