She is on the last frontier, the edge
of forest as she knows it. She breathes
in air frost-laced and petrichor and surveys
the scene, looking for a landing. There is none,
the crater’s gaping mouth has eaten mountain
ash, messmate, and spat out splinters. A single fern
stands in the epicenter, its fronds touching no one.
Her babe moves inside her, his foot pawing pouch
as he pokes his head up to see what has floored
their flight. She jiggles her stomach – a sign of play,
calm. Beyond the bones, charred trunks are pitchforks
raised against the night, their prongs black and leafless.
She turns and glides back – what else is there to do?
She lands on the hollow tree, clambers into their sanctuary,
soaked in the smell of them, musk and milk. Her gliding
membrane becomes blanket, sweeping up fur and limbs,
love and hunger. Empty of sugar and leaves, they rest,
entangled and warm, preserving what’s left.
Pushing empty packets into the bin, I see the whales, on the news, 470 of them lying haphazardly like precious flotsam a child might find, washed up in Macquarie Harbour. 470 seems closer to an evacuation than an accident. Sometimes, as a girl, swimming out so far there was no sand within reach of my