Of Cockatoo Days

White as coffin guts,
their gravel beaks lift up
new paint in crests,
gnaw  the Gymea Lily’s neck –
the bloom of two years’ budding
lands heavy on my head.

White peaceless birds
repeat overheard words
gnaw the gutters at dawn
and eat from bins.
Evening cockatoos pick a tree to turn to noise.

Blank brushstrokes in the smog
of inconsiderate chimneys.
These homes are never cold enough for hearths and snow,
only to open up hands in banksia mouths
and bring out wattle flowers
as cockatoos melt from the hills.

Put on air-con, shut the windows,
wear hand cream and white
cotton gloves to bed.

But who can stop the cockatoos
from chewing on the house
and spitting out the paint?

Jemma Payne

 

As published in Voiceworks #97 ‘Habit’. Republished here with permission.

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