By American Creek there’s a fig tree
that’s been chopped off at the waist.
Nothing but a brown stump remains.
it’s the reason for my suburb’s name.
& as for mine, you ask? Ralph will do.
Mr Malvern to their friends at school.
I watch them walk down O’Brien’s Rd.
Reflected in the Fairlane’s rear-view.†
Hit by a wave of International Roast
I navigate classrooms, bells. Verna.
Mrs Malvern. Here they come, late
as usual. Somehow excusable. This
public high school’s last summer day.
Relief like the change that brought
The hot rain. The creek swells under
the old iron foot bridge. I watch it.
The school yard’s dense with bodies
as the fog on Mt Nebo, youngest of
the city volcanos, the one that feeds
into American Creek. It’s flooding.
Call me Clint. No, I am the eldest.
It’s okay. Happens all the time. Well,
there’s the bell. I’d better run. Got
our big assembly today. Sure. Bye.
I can feel the nettle, stuck in my leg.
The only one I missed at the post-
raid leech & scratch inspections. JR.
Jason Malvern. Securing the sting’s
perimeter, through the grey cotton
of my shorts. That’s better. I have
to cut a fresh trail through jungle –
up at the source of American Creek.
The creek’s steam mingles with our
cigarettes, Joni, me and Star. Durry
sisters, too cool for North Beach, or
school. The rock bulges out under
me like a wedding dress, creamed.
Watching the water swirl. “Hey Jess,”
says Star, passing me the burning
stick, “we get your mum this year.”
They don’t believe in fairies but I do.
There’s fairies in American Creek &
I’ve seen them, too, in Beaton Park.
Don’t laugh at me like that. You’re
all the same. Alice is the name. Do
you play music? No? Me, flugel horn.
I also compete in orienteering. Good
for the calf muscles. Little Atheltics.
Betty Malvern with a bee. Here’s my
frown. Moment’s mood like that sky
after rain, like the swollen veins of
American Creek. Why do I have to
go to school? I’d like to skate away
the summer, attend gigs. Minds let
loose in carparks, in ghost worlds.
Yes, it’s Betty. Seeya. Soon, I hope.
To chew on grass in the sunshine. To
fall asleep in shadows on the ground.
They’ll bury me beside the creek. In
silhouettes they form a circle round
my stiffened form, all freezing now.
The summer rains will hug me, keep
my little bones warm. A candle is lit
and stuck into the ground. It goes out.