Succession Planning, Northern Rivers, Australia
Watching TV on New Year’s Eve, the South Coast towns are the fireworks. Evacuations. Smoke-filled air. The skies are red, even black. I cry & paint my face & limbs with calamine lotion. My skin is burning from insect bites. Battle wounds from hosing the garden at dusk. There are water restrictions due to the drought & the forests are burning. Blame spreads like grassfires.
I am safe holidaying up north at my brother’s house. In the garden, a patch of moving lawn becomes an Eastern Water Dragon – grey-green & banded. She knows who I am. Our intimacy can be measured at about half a metre. She’s already tried to eat the bead (a laughing Buddha head) hanging from my mobile phone on the back deck. For days, I’ve given her food scraps. Banana & canned salmon.
The dragon has fire within her. On my last day here, she gives me a gift. She digs a hole in the courtyard among the ferns, palms & heliconias. Then she disappears. In the afternoon, she is back at the hole. The eggs slide out like white pebbles. About ten. She knows heat. The temperature will determine sex. She checks them & begins again. After she covers the eggs, she steps up onto a rock and stands completely still, looking steadily into my glowing face.
Rosanna Licari's work has appeared in Shearsman, Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (MUP, 2020), Scars: an anthology of microlit (Spineless Wonders 2020) and Pulped Fiction: an anthology of microlit (Spineless Wonders, 2021). She won the 2021 AAALS Poetry Prize. She teaches English to migrants and refugees in Brisbane, Australia, and is the poetry editor of online literary journal, StylusLit.