Fairy Bower


We, our family—Joe, baby, kelpie, me—
live on the rain-wrestling smudges to Sydney’s west,
Gundungurra and Dharug country

Our house, a sweaty pram push from Gargaree,
that sacred gully stamped with a mile-long loop of racing bitumen

Our kelpie likes to run the loop, 
mark greens creeping up to light dystopian cracks,
chase squawky boys circling:
sulphur-crested snow flurries
                                            that drift to boughs,
                                                                           crack nuts,


My brother-in-law and his wife visit: requisite vista, 
we abandon the loop for the fay bower of Mount Victoria
scrambling past Cox and his thirty
                                            chip chipping,
                                            peck pecking,
                                            loose loosing their Fairies 
to ferret out the Yowies

the dog tug tugs Joe to sniff at their ivied crotches:
                                                                                        Flour & Fluenza, Sugar & Pox
lounging post-revel on mossy rocks,
as unmolested maenads might dream.

I bounce jig bounce baby to sleep as we wander up the path,
pseudo-marsupial, my pouch the Ergobaby Omni 360 in Pearl Grey
shush little one, shush
shush my heart, shush


We escape Winter, stage north: family holidays in Brisbane, Jagera land

We watch Oxley sweat up the banks of the Maiwar
crowned with a fluttering halo of lantana

I thank Wind for swaying Joe to seek shelter in the art gallery
I can’t recall the last time my steps echoed between the high ceilings
                                                                                                      and parquet floors of Culture

I bounce jig bounce baby to sleep,
shush little one shush
my marsupial heart resting on my chest
beneath Ben Quilty’s thick blotches
                                                         of face,
I see all at once,
my heart skidding to break against the white wall: Fairy Bower Rorschach

turbid paint blots blot smudges of massacre

women and their babies
shush my heart, shush

Rose Whitau (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Pākehā) lives in Wadandi Boodja in Western Australia with her partner, their two kids, and their dog.