Journal » Trout 12 » Cyclone Warning [Cherie Barford]
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cyclone warning

Cherie Barford

These poems were written in the Loyalty Islands where I recently spent 5 weeks with my partner. We were based on the island of Lifou.


the colour of mulled wine
spike the heat

lying heavy as old dough
kneaded to breaking point
over the village

while the coral sea
a pressure cooker
for hijacked winds
churns its bounty
into a cyclone
with a dreadful
foraging eye

trina gathers strength
is ready to seize
totem poles
unharvested yams
washing lines laden with
mother hubbard dresses
and gris-gris the cat

lolling on the window sill
his ribs drawn tight
as if sculptured
by whale bone stays

but it is the heat
that has scraggled
meat from his bones

and into this heat
an unwary mother
blows rhevana
the breath of the totem
into her new babe’s ear

tuned to the vulnerable
quickens her pace

the village holds its breath

then beyond the coral reef
trina is diverted
by weightier prey
swings her tail out to sea

pigs grunt
roosters crow
goats bleat
the village exhales

and gris-gris
sensing reprieve
meows for breakfast

as we open shutters
pull criss-crossess
of sticky tape from windows

and laugh
at the feebleness
of our barricade

gris-gris – pronounced gree-gree


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© Copyright 2004 Cherie Barford & Trout.