David Mason

In the Nursery

Little one, who are you,
and who will you be?
Hunger, I know,
and endless thirst.
But you are not winged
like the honeybee.

Joy dawned slowly
in your animal life,
a matter of weeks
before you smiled,
and there are cries,
and there is strife

in not knowing
or having a way to know
why the sharp jab
or the sudden wet.
For now there is skin
and your mother’s glow.

There are out and in,
there are brief and long,
there are eyes in the glass
and elephants flying.
See? They have brought you
this little song.

The Grandfather in Summer

Sometime before the dawn I watch a swallow
dive-bomb a currawong, whose beak could break eggs.
Just as easily it could hold them intact,
tactfully, as a tall sommelier
might tip the rarest bottle of champagne.

The swallow dives with frantic bravery,
defending her nest. The larger bird ducks
and like a rodeo clown shrugs off attack,
pretending to patrol the lawn for worms.

And then it stops. The sun has topped the trees.
There’ll be no more struggle in the heat of day.
I hear the children rising in the house,
their play and feeding, as one might hear small talk
from sixty years ago.

Stillness descends,
the hay-brown grass and chatter of children
rolling a ball, the heat-cloud gauzing the sun.
I have become the child who heard all this.
There is no time but what the body knows.

David Mason’s most recent collection of poems is Pacific Light, which is also celebrated in a short film: https://vimeo.com/746745055A collection of essays, Incarnation and Metamorphosis: Can Literature Change Us?, appeared in 2023. He lives in Tasmania.