Beasts of Burden


My friend the camel learned to fly in the wasteland.  He

was golden with water dreams, but pockmarked

from the feet down and across his unshadowed page.

I didn’t know how to drink without a tongue and he

had forgotten how to be a cup.


We learned in grey and salt.  He would stamp on my spit

until it ran greening into parchment cracks or

– slitherwise as the taipan –

tricked the grass into bloom.


I watched him hollow, stretch, thin, sway,

muddy and cough.  Sunsets tripped over his brow,

worn now to wax-bright whispering.


I found wings on the redgum’s bank, fluttering

out of waterlily reach.  I frightened them, but he was close

behind to soothe.  They tapped his shoulders and he smiled

his last drink for me.