We are on the quay buying sun-cream —
pelicans and painted fish at arm's length,
day trips to see the whales — when all I can look at
is this dog of sorts, dancing in the sun.
It tugs at the harness with its teeth,
bucks at the end of its lead.
The owner, a girl, tries to calm it gingerly.
I wonder if it’s the heat — the day’s or its own —
sand on its back, soil on its ears,
frost settled around its neck — Dingo.
Driving its tongue into an armpit, eyes in revolt,
pressing its teeth around a wrist — a cub’s neck,
paws pushed against its mother’s face,
fighting for its place in the pack —
creature from a guidebook, outside a gift-shop.
The girl calls out a name, it bounds,
looks into her eyes, then into the sky.
A man shouts from behind a double ice cream
You can shoot that, shoot that if you want.
It howls in mourning and licks her face.
Michael Crowley (UK)
From Michael's book First Fleet