If I were to touch the trees and smell the leaves
run my finger down the scribbles on a gum,
pull the pastry bark from the trunk
and dip my fingers in deep red ironbark jam –
would I then believe I was living?
Does the drone bee, who has no sting
just fed by worker bees like peasants,
who waits for the new queen
falling breathless to the earth,
believe his life’s work is now done?
Is purpose found in the lilt of a girl’s little hiccup
the sob of a boy who’s grazed his thumb
in the grip of a child’s hand slipped without effort into your own,
big human soothing small human
walking life not alone –
would you then believe in living?
I have felt the rip and pull and lure of the tide’s undertow
the skipped heartbeat of a giant wave’s peak
that instead of slamming you to sandy floor
surprises with a heady rush then gentle push
back to grounded shore –
life not just living.
Is it in the minor key of six strings and a melancholy drum
or the heady cells ignited and risen by a faster beat,
the folding of flour and water into dough
with human hands mixed with yeast
now rising in the sun.
The shedding of the cicada shell
snake’s skin and saltwater crab,
a thousand lives reborn in one
with removal of the weighty dead
beginnings, time and time again.
Would we then all believe in living?
The inhale of another’s smell as soft lips touch those we love,
the taste of them upon our tongue;
the guttural guffaw that escapes the body with friends in play
the mother’s light provided by her son
the father’s gift upheld by his offspring
the children who cherish their daddy’s back –
all the ones who hold your tears
bask in your light and fight your dark
it’s in the moments, not the life,
that’s where you’ll find the living.
The wind’s caress of sun burned cheeks as you ride along the ridge
the flake of snow frozen in a milli-moment until it melts
the galah’s cry with the cockatoo as dusk skies blush at day’s end –
rays will always break come morning
stars will always shine come night.
If I were to touch the leaves and smell the trees
press my hand against the ghost gum
lean against the solid trunk
and dig my nails into the eucalyptus sap –
Written for a friend in ©2021 – re-published here with edits in ©2022 for poetry competition submission.