by Alexandra McCallum
Smoked eel against my tongue
comes apart in flakes;
Sticks out sideways
like splinters of wood from the fence.
I’m five. Or four. Or three.
Small enough anyway to think that the pine trees above us
have been here a century instead of forty years.
Too small to know that it was you who dropped the flying seeds into hot ground,
That this is not a wild accidental forest; or birds transplanting as they flew.
But the trees are too dark, too tall and I ignore them.
I see the strange shape of flavours I don’t have names for
and your fingers as you pull pieces off the bone.
You’re talking too. We are talking. But the only thing I remember is
That you held out the skull, flat and lovely, and shoved it between the fenceposts
“Because the ants need some too.” I watch them swarm over splinters of meat
And I love eel forever.
There is more to come
with you who always put food where conversations should go
Angry the day I ruined your practical joke
because I couldn’t watch my grandmother panic.
Angry the day you taught me the words economic migrant; so I wouldn’t get your story wrong
Not angry the day I was in the way, and swinging to avoid me
You broke a toe.
Alexandra McCallum writes fiction, poetry and performance work. She is also an oral storyteller and community cultural development facilitator. Her work has appeared in Artshub, Running Dog, Brisbane Modern and Best of Bareknuckle Poet and was selected for the US writers’ workshop Tin House. Her scripts have had readings at Metro Arts and the Judith Wright Centre and she has co-written scripts for school touring. Between 2007 and 2009 she facilitated Screech Theatre in which young people with and without disability came together to make new work. She has also facilitated numerous other projects and workshops and performed at festivals and galleries.