A sprawling arena of hard clay,
cut through on one side by the creek
and spread with thistles.
And I, alone at the centre of it.
Then he’s there.
Six feet of polished earth-brown,
flat venom head swaying
like a grass stem.
We freeze, each measuring
the other’s threat. From my small
island of rug, I watch his eyes.
He, bellying the dust
and fallen gum-leaves
of his native ground, stares past
the edge of me.
And then, a flick of tail
and he turns that body like water
flung from a hose
and I’m almost sorry –
how astonishingly he’s gone.
Diane Mulholland was born in rural Australia and now lives in London. Her work has appeared widely in journals in the UK and Australia, including most recently The Manchester Review, Finished Creatures, Not Very Quiet, and Long Poem Magazine.