Once, magpies squabbled overhead
while kookaburras stared.
At dusk, our car was a boat
in a tide of cattle,
tails swishing, bitumen studded
with steamy dung.
The road un-scrolled to reveal
a python basking in the last rays.
We travelled slower then, windows
un-wound through a tunnel of cool,
a colonnade of silver-barked fig trees.
In the breeze, the vibrato of jade leaves,
and we’d pause to listen.
We were there on that last afternoon,
you, too small
to remember this, we met up with a surfeit of trucks
and men in orange hats.
Their chainsaws roared into life,
jagged teeth bit into bark
ripped through rings of ages,
ten years, fifty, a century
sliced through –
unless we, bearing witness
in funereal procession held up
by a weathered man with a lollipop stick,
were that ceremony
amidst the tremors and sulphurous air,
the pavement, a splinter of twigs, leaves and sawdust.
All the dairy farms are sold now.
We idle in three lanes
of traffic, the buzz of your headphones,
you, busy texting, while tourists
rev their engines
impatient for the surf.
Roll down the window, sweetheart,
the ghost figs are calling.