Carefree by Samuel Wagan Watson

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you’d never forget the pelicans
because it was their home too
and that occasional one who’d try and swallow your baited hook
while we cast out into an endless mould of brown and blue skin
sometimes catching our line in its enormous and clumsy wingspan
floating around the jetty constantly boasting that huge gullet
so close to the pylons covered in poinson oyster shells
that waited for the bare flesh within our gait,
inviting our bare flesh to dance
Mum worried that we’d get sick from eating them
Day saying the sewage from the caravan park
would sometimes flow near where we fished
and that they oysters bathed in it too

little buckets of a few bream
silver catch of a meal
and the persistent cats at our ankles
lapping up the smell
running up past the shop
a front window necropolis of stonefish in vegemite jars
suspended in a vault of clear alcoholic brine
still deadly in death
and us in bare feet all the time
three kids in stonefish-infested mud
playing Russian roulette –
one good pair of running shoes between us

Source:  Smoke Encrypted Whispers  by Samuel Wagan Watson Univ. of Queensland Press, 2004

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