on not asking daddy

because he’d say
………don’t you know? don’t you know?
………child child how can you grow!

well I grew, grew taller than most
and my head wobbled, wobbled on its thin stem
and when my father pronounced the root source
of a German word, its Latin derivation
……….don’t you know? don’t you know?
I looked down at his feet
and saw the soil-clogged knots of roots
the gaping holes in the ground
and my gut began its life-long habit
of twinge and cringe that’s triggered by a certain
tone the masculine intones
……….don’t you know? don’t you know?
so when you and I enter new country
you stride ahead charting the vista, Mount This
Mount That, announce the names of plants
hardenbergia lomandra eucryphyia
names are good
you say
……….don’t you know? don’t you know?
I hang back in the silence of the scrub
to watch a mysterious white-throated bird,
savour its tentative fossicking
names are good, yes yes I’m sure
but flowers still flower for me, can you believe it!
and birds appear.

Nicola Bowery

Nicola Bowery’s most recent poetry collection is married to this ground (Walleah Press 2014), and her two previous collections are Bloodwood (1996) and Goatfish (2007). She lives on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.

© 2017