magpie mind

Three poems by Brent Cantwell

There are fenced-off houses there now.

The paddock

we cut through to get to school –

the black pine-row

and grey-mystery ditch –

is residential parking now

and only empty during the school run.

Forty’s a funny sort of above.

Now I perch

on the fence I used to hop

to beak-sort the dumb nut of now

from the dried kernel

of way-back-then.

But this is pinecone-love

to a magpie mind:

I still jumped the pine-wood sty.

I still warmed my feet in a cowpat

and hurried past the brown-weight of a cow.

I haven’t forgotten the bog-lost shoes,

the horse-nipped shoulders,

dead creeks turgid with negotiations.

But I swoop and sail

weighing the past on a pine-cone scale.

so what

It is the same thing every morning.

You sew the lawn below the balcony.


Your needle-beak leads

not the fat fist of your body.


You leave a blue thread in the sky.


You under-stich the thin linen of the land

for berries


and seeds.


You’re the full-stretch-of-an-arm away

when you drop

the seed of the eucalyptus.


It is the same thing every morning.

You sow the lawn below the balcony!

girl outside

                     for Mena

morning is made of honey

dripping stickiness

on the garden’s rough chin,

& hers

she leaves the house


because tree-tops are tickled

& leaves leave too

& the birds, the birds –

flat in a flock & fanning back –

are folded into her skin –

an origami of wings

Brent Cantwell is a New Zealand writer from Timaru, South Canterbury, who lives with his family in the hinterland of Queensland, Australia. He teaches high school English and has been writing for pleasure for 23 years. He has recently been published in Sweet Mammalian, Turbine/ Kapohau, Cordite, Brief, Blackmail Press, Landfall, Foam: e and Takahe.