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.