As Rachel, As Sarah

I am leaving Lileah
along an empty farm road: ice-grabbed
dairy grass, a devil smashed on the asphalt—
the clean pipe of its femur hollowly becoming.

Emptiness is the point;
consolation is the constant motion of flesh.

go to the mountain and plant a knife
in the white flank of an altar / go without a blade
and negotiate / go to the mountain alone, lock the boy
your bore inside / learn how to tell God / no

Collector of locks and bond-mechanisms,
inhabitant of a house with no doors, I
came here an open temple on the wayside.

A corrugated pump-shed, caulked with curses.
A stand of pine, top-heavy in telephone wire.

The road has its own holies.

go to the mountain and unbrick the indenture / upend
the summons bowl, soak flight in citrus
and cedar oil / women tended the first garden /
we will decide when to leave / to down salt and shovel

This is not fall. It is a footslog, the choice
made over and over. All such great hurts are—
none of us get the absolution of gravity.

I have inherited my matriarch’s bones,
and left her prayers here to rot.

go to the mountain, where God has made a promise
of our bodies / the cartilage of my nose
comes loose / every first-born son thinks it’s a sign /
go to the mountain / break it

A milk-herd crowds the fence. They know
I was created in their category; they know
all my stories—the knife-flash and wrapped
thighbone. The coil of oily smoke.

And how they have followed the farmer
in spite; how they have loved his children.
They know that I am becoming
the kind of fracture which cannot be set.

this is the oldest story I know / go to the mountain
and step over its snares / men think life is a hunt / it is
a recessional / the leaving counts / go to the mountain /
but come back.

Madeleine Dale is a Brisbane poet. She holds First Class Honours from the University of Queensland, where she is currently completing an MPhil with a focus on ecopoetics. Her work can be found in Meanjin, Voiceworks, Cordite, Stilts, and Plumwood Mountain, among others. 

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