There we were in the photo, heads above the clear
Emmagen Creek, as if we’d been caught in a family
reprieve, any issues dissolved in the ripples. Though
the youngest was already out and up among buttress
roots, focussed on his feet and how his teenage hours
set with friends had been reset to the Daintree,
that thick vine draped across the banks like a lifeline
he didn’t see. Nor did he think this was where much
happened – we’d think rain on the mountain forms
rock forms soil forms forest over eons. He clambered
on grey limbs, while we felt the bounteous weight
of the place, even with the ferns and palms and lichen
at eye level, that bigger picture of diversity to grasp.
We’d struggled then to frame his young needs. As
I now suspect we failed to point to the fig leaning
in the next photo, its fruits spiralling up the trunk
in hues from leaf green to deep wine. Some design,
this age-old plant with its live-in wasp, and perhaps
we were right to let this story slip and hope he saw
us above the pebbles letting him be, unconditionally,
as the water swirled and held us and nothing more.
Listen to Kathryn Fry reading ‘The Lesson’ (1:31).
Kathryn Fry has had poems published in various anthologies and journals, including Antipodes, Cordite Poetry Review, Not Very Quiet, Plumwood Mountain Journal, and Westerly. Her first collection is Green Point Bearings (Ginninderra Press, 2018).
© text and audio 2020