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Published in Westerly, Sept 2018 https://westerlymag.com.au/issues/westerly-sa/

and Australian Poetry Anthology Vol 7, 2019

A

Adelaide, I Dream You

 

Adelaide, I dream you, your cream rollers breaking

apart on your jetties, the raked-clean beaches, sand

tongued white by the Southern Ocean, beachgoers

drinking their flats and lattes, black coffee covered

with steamed white froth. Adelaide, I dream your hot December

your sweaty Christmas parade, Adelaide, your giant plastic

Santa and your blow-up snowmen, is the blinding sun

like the snow, Adelaide? Do you want to make it so?

Your crinoline-frilled history, your spinning-parasol past with corseted

women in Miss Gladys Sym Choon shoes, photochrome postcards

of open streets, the dirt beaten flat over what lies

beneath. What are you trying to hide, Adelaide, in the neatness

of your chart? All laid out in a grid, Adelaide, Hindley St intersecting

your heart, the mango-sweet of Empire Shisha, the neon outlines

of women’s bodies, Crazy Horse strippers with synthetic wigs

gawped at by suitboys and men with paunches, the punch and shrill

of gold-filled pokies, pavements stained with puke. Your blood-dreams

birl inside me, Adelaide. Do our outsides reflect our insides

or is it the other way round? My face is starting to change, Adelaide,

I think I might be you, your hidden pain and homesick past, the slap-slap-slap

of those northern suburbs, white salt-pans and scrubland paddocks

factories and flat-packed land. Your long straight highways stamped

with billboard warnings, littered with crow-picked roadkill, glistered

with cellophaned grief. I don’t know if I belong. Adelaide, I don’t know

if you belong. What does it mean to belong, Adelaide? D’you remember

how this began? You act like it’s all yours, Adelaide, as if

you’d always been here, fussing with dusty petticoats, polishing

curlicued balconies. Is forgetting the only solution? The old

me has faded, Adelaide, making me afraid. I think

we can fix this, I do Adelaide, but we’ve still got a lot to learn.