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Any place to go

ISSUE:  Summer 2011

Days later, not long after we left the convent,
the war ended. I promised to take her directly
to the train station, but the sight of her
on the back seat scrambling out of that uniform,
and the highway opening up, well, what can I say
but we’re all sinners at heart. Neither of us had
any place to go and when I made my suggestion,
she crossed herself one last time, and wiggled her toes.
It was outside Oodnadatta that we met Rodney,
holding the big red by the scruff of its neck.
I told him, “The butt of your cigarette is a refugee,
crossing to safety on your tired lips’ tide.”
He didn’t care for pleasantries, so we set about
the job at hand. Once the roo was staked out,
Georgia and I jumped back in the Holden.
I watched them diminishing in the rear-view,
like a movie’s final scene just before the credits roll.
Rodney nursed the roo’s head, whispering softly
into the big red’s nervous, twitching ears.
When Georgia flicked the radio on and heard
the ceasefire had broken, you couldn’t blame her,
or feel too bad about Rodney and his frisky red.
I told her, “The world is a song left out in the rain.”
She countered, “It is ash daydreaming its fire.”
I liked the drama of it, but preferred the way
the flesh of her lips clung briefly together
before she spoke, like loved ones embracing
and going off to war. I forget the details,
but remember the astonished faces driving past us,
awkwardly mounted on the highway’s curb,
Georgia’s sweet paddles waving out the window,
her curled toes tangled in the cloudless blue.


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