Lace, Paper, Bark

— Eileen Chong

Melaleuca linariifolia —Bundanon

A meeting place:
this opening in the rocks,
remains of a fire at its heart.

Here a plant strangled
by a vine now stripped away.
Leaving only a rippled stem.

I stand under a paperbark.
Look at her lace finery—
narrow waist, textured thighs.

Her needled hair in crimped layers,
yellow starbursts nearly white
in the afternoon light.

I hold her in my arms. The wind
makes her sing like a river.
Her scent so sharp it cuts.

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