Meredith Wattison


Martha’s children wore the colours
of peaches and plums,
the split lips
of blanched tomatoes.

She is the magpie
and the hard, tart orange.
Her hair a Tartar’s
orange peel
and swoop.
Her withering gaze
her static swoop

My son at 8
with slapped cheek syndrome,
parvovirus B19,
the heat of his cheek
like cooling stewed fruit,
my seminal grandfather’s norm,
the sour pinch of her shame.

She has the misanthropy
of clingstone fruit,
its centre a tumour,
her grace slipstone
as soap,
hair pulling,
ear pulling,
noses gripped
as Larry, Curly
and Moe’s karma,
fighting over wormed fruit
and the weaker backhand.

Inuit face pulling
as a rolling, tearing ballet,
the flesh, cartilage and hide
of apricots.

The Mc Suburban angelica, predilection
for body-piercers and tattooists
relishes flesh, cartilage and hide.
Lips have the give of apricots.

The vicariousness
of jams and conserves,
we brace at the inflection
of syrup.

At the end of the day
a bowl of stewed peaches.
The peach trees asleep,
recoiling from glut
and absence.

Going underground was easy,
day and night relative
to the providore’s path,
his wheels ellipses,
his pockets hot with stars.

The mice in the port wine magnolia
are its movable fruit.
It is their spread,
its flowers sicken,
ache heads,
validate intangible load.

The dissolute quartz
of jarred grapes,
the buzzed tongue
of hot, plummy rhubarb
and its crimson placation.

My father on her nicotine breast
for 60 years.

His father on the mine’s skin floor,
his open throat and pockets
hot with stars.

At the end of the day
a bowl of stewed peaches.


It is hard to despise
Robert (Mouseman) Thompson’s
rats on the roof,
as a pop-up book
of Pell Street,
as da Vinci’s waves
drawn through
sinuous creepers,
surreal as pleated, purple kale,
their hot fruits
on the roof.

The camp furs of London
assumed this shimmering
There lies the structure
of stricture.

The plume and down
of a peppercorn tree’s
black straddling swan-wings
drapes the house with shade.

Its head and neck
curved like a carved jet
umbrella’s handle.

Its eye the white
peeled-orange moon
of day.

It embraces and trembles,
pinked, phlegmatic,
laden with ersatz pepper.

It is the swan,
tied to my ankle,
black veiled,
me red-handed
with Leda’s veil,
with the moon’s orange peel.

Her presence
amongst the shimmering,
faux relief
of three-dimensional animals
rebuking this theatre
with their grace
and stricture.

The ephemera of wildflowers is the family jewels,
the reason for travel and search
on free days of secret knowledge.

The black swan eclipses the house
with its naked embrace,
its showgirl powdered skin
and fluff,
otherworldly spinifex
pedantic bone structure,
lamb-like adherence.

It sobs nothing.
It is tied to Martha’s
little finger
as she boils
her husband’s clothes.

What is Martha’s German
for solace?

What is the German for,
behind this stone wall
we speak like, of and to wildflowers

Hinter dieser Steinmauer
sprechen wir wie, von und zu wilden Blumen.

The swan works
as confection,
sliced tyre kitsch,
blown glass,
child sized,
water bird.

As boronia
I sleep amongst
silky knots of them,
black as purist trifles,
their beaks open to ether
and tin.



Meredith Wattison was born in 1963 and lives on the outskirts of Sydney. Her 5 books of poetry are Psyche’s Circus (Poetry Australia, 1989), Judith’s Do (Penguin Australia, 1996), Fishwife (Five Islands Press, 2001), The Nihilist Line (Five Islands Press, 2003) and Basket of Sunlight (Puncher & Wattmann, 2007).

Wattison writes: “terra bravura will be published by Puncher & Wattmann. It began as a text message about ‘straw-yellow grasses, their dada, goat-mouthed grazers’ and ‘road crows chroming a black storm’ to David Musgrave from just out of Nevertire on the way to Broken Hill; it became 90 pages.”