‘Holmleigh’

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My grandmother’s Brisbane house had a copper plaque
that read ‘Holmleigh’,
and round the back, attached, an outhouse
by a red brick wall (a narrow crack at finger-running height),
trellis, western sun, broad ferns
with spores like pistol caps.
Lizards liked it there and grew quite tame;
my grandma talked to one.

Figs grew down the slope (more lizards)
past the line that leaned on wooden props.
The trees had stinking bugs that looked like shields,
each with an orange cross.
They’d edge away as I climbed up for fruit, and Grandma said,
‘Watch out, they’re called “Spit in Your Eye”.’
Sometimes those bugs would join
and walk linked at the back.

Afternoons
the dead hour,
spare room;
I brushed my grandma’s hair like silkworm thread,
just at the sides so she could read her book.
Then with a sigh she’d snap her spectacles up
in a case of dry green moss and lumber out
to the scent that Grandpa left behind
of the evening Telegraph and slippers made from felt,
grumbling, ‘Nature Calls and We Must Obey’.

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