by Gavin Austin

The stillness is full of menace –
difficult to say if it is thunder
or the drumming of tyres
over the wooden bridges
leading out of town;
in the last light,
as I drive from you,
the landscape
beyond the roadside gums
is a canvas
of smudged charcoal

A withdrawing sun
cannot penetrate its barrier:
light hits pale trunks,
bounces back –
flashes of frozen lightning
slashing reproach –
crimson eucalypt tips
like unfinished sentences

Delinquent cockatoos swarm,
shriek insanely,
before wrenching away
as if they too
are leaving
in escape of the storm.

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