Passing Through

Not born there, won’t die there; a flatland railway town
for passing through, but it stores my childhood’s measure –
leaf-smoke scent of autumn, frost, paddock mushrooms, brown
splintered summer landscapes still untouched by mind’s erasure.
There I grew secure, though testing the elastic bonds of home,
questing boundaries, lured by shunting’s shrill complaint to comb
the railway’s web of silver tracks. Thrilling noise, suffocating
cumulus of scalding steam blasted from an engine’s yawning stack
avenging gobs spat from high vantage, the overpass reverberating.
And nights: elemental fear of prey seized in that hollow shriek-black
swoop when mopokes scarify the dark; dazed horror of things unseen
abated by the rail’s percussion song, the diminuendo siren scream.
What promise! Time and distance, change, dreams, expectation
and the mystery of trains, their cornucopia of destinations.




DAEL ALLISON gave up visual arts to write because a laptop is more portable. A wanderer who spent most of 2012 living on a coral atoll in Kiribati in the middle of the Pacific, she has won numerous awards for poetry and essays and was awared the 2010 Litlink Prize for an unpublished novel. Her first collection of poetry, Shock Aftershock (Picaro Press 2010) explored islands, including Nias, Indonesia where she worked on reconstruction after the Indian Ocean tsunami, and Maria Island, Tasmania, where she spent a two week residency as part of the Wildcare Tasmania Prize for nature writing, 2005. Her second collection, Fairweather's Raft (Walleah Press, 2012), poems responding to the life and work of Ian Fairweather, was launched at Wordstorm Festival in Darwin in 2012, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the artist's solo raft journey from Darwin to Timor.