Anne Elvey

chance definitions: neither same nor

                v. inf. to take in
                         not any other    
               a nutrient skein selved

       a tangle of sleeves   your
   its organic period-is-ation 
n. permutations and 
 combinations   of not 
to survive


      eating and


  pres. part. recyc[matter]ling 
                       the bacterial
   gurgling multiplication table 
                            a carbon-based 
         mnemonic   with nitrogen and 
  a panoply of compounds 


past part. coming to be   coming 
  each gustation
   each inhalation 
                            to am
            neither same nor 
                   a card   tucked 
                       a cuff

What to do in early Autumn

Tuck a spider in an emerald
shell. Let a dry leaf

cling to its stem. Its crimson
gives nothing to the tree.

Let the sun lick the brine
from your skin. The mollusc

has quit its case. Ask what
answer your hands should

give. It is time. It is time
they listened for the leaf.

To be sung as the ice melts

The thurible is lit and incense rises.


Sing the ocean as its seeks a sharp
level. Sing humans in their dwelling.

Whatever blessing there is, sing.
The blessing is what remains. Incense

is made—matter’s steep odour.


In the ocean sing fish
sparse in their dwelling.


What level is the canon
for the level of the land?


Sing the blessing
of two women meeting,

their dwelling foretold
at the hour of incense

before a strange birth.


What is this odour that defeats? It is
the smell of flood and of death. The censer

swings and incense engulfs the Holy
of Holies. Breathe in the aroma of the gone.


Cinders are incense
The level

Blessing is confetti


Sing the late marriage
Sing the dwelling

Sing the odour
Sing the level

the being dispersed over

in the burnt country.
the cleared country.

on the ocean.

of ocean and human.
of sea snake and blessing.

of the albatross.
in the thurible—

an ocean’s salt.

Another continent

The day before Thanksgiving I walked
to the World Trade Centre site breathing
the twelve year old breath of the gone.

Returning to the Larchmont Hotel I passed
a branch of the public library. Its basement
was a women’s detention place. Its tower

looked like Hogwarts. In the street were rows
of cut pines for sale. Remembering scenes
from old movies I snagged my exhalation

on a subway sign. Gutters were turned
to muddy ice. I am home now and have
left behind a fragment of breath. It
clings to the blocks of a city for walking.

Anne Elvey is author of Kin (Five Islands, 2014) and managing editor of Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics. She holds honorary appointments at Monash University and University of Divinity and lives in Seaford, Victoria.
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