for the

Smooth Handfish

22/11/20

blog

  • Paula Keogh

Mother Earth Self



I watch my mother die. Dementia, they said. Over the years,

parts of her disappear. Her mind stalls and words lose their rhythm.

She can’t say her rosary. She forgets her name, her children,

and the night she fell in love.

She endures firestorms of madness, surges of confusion —

the whole coastline of her personality collapses —

and there is wailing in the darkness, the bellowing

of a wildebeest in a dry riverbed.

She dies all deaths, flying the last flight of the eastern curlew,

building the nest of the last Gouldian finch; she is the last

pig-footed bandicoot, the last northern quoll scavenging

for a last morsel of food.

She is with the disappeared, gone with the Norfolk Island owl,

the Mount Glorious day frog, the smooth handfish —

gone where footprints go, to fossil or to wind.

I sink into my amphibious dreaming, stare from my reptilian brain,

burrow into my mammalian love. I am an albatross falling from the sky,

I am a manta ray flailing in the depths, I am

choking on a plastic bag.

Mother earth self

There are starfish in my eyes,

in my heart: a tiger.

The bells are ringing gone gone gone

And no birds sing.



Written by Paula Keogh