I dreamt I was a thousand feet tall and I could see all the way to Sydney
And I could smell the desperation and the fear and the excitement
And I was drunker than I’d ever been and had an endless supply of ciggies and I could flick away the satellites and blow kisses at the clouds.
I could step on all the pretty girls and squish them in the pavement and all the boys who laughed at me were chicken bones, pissy pants and orange peel.
My teachers were cicada shells.
The weatherboards were paper weights
And the hills hoists were tiny needles I could prick in to my hands
I trampled on your doll house you know and I flattened all the school rooms
There were no creases in my stockings and no scars along my knees
I dreamt we were abandoned and left the world alone
And you and I ran hand in hand and danced to disco on the road.
I dreamt that I could skip to heaven and I dreamt about your mouth
The black soot in your iris and your pleated leather pants
I was bloated by the panic and groaning in my underwear
You shake me when you look at me and I tremble at my ugliness
Your eyes are like the beach and I’m sunburnt brown and drowning
And there’s sand inside my cossie and I came here for a look
The kaleidoscopic channel flip of thoroughbreds and rejected ones
And the caterwauling compressed regret that underwhelms my days
Charming spit and tickle mama don’t you hear you me crying
I was dreaming of a better me, I was dreaming of a better me
I dreamt I saw myself reflected in a mirror in my old bedroom and I resequenced my self- loathing and walked back the way I came
I made a plastic bed of empty crisps packets and faded good weekends and I dreamt I slept and never woke up again
They say magpies are the smartest birds and sing the sweetest song but those fuckers still swoop down and try and pluck your eye balls out.
This poem is in response to the photograph, 'Mother's reply 1976'
by Tracy Moffatt and forms part of the Shadow Catchers exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales 2020.
- Joelistics reads 'Magpies'