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Books & Poetry

Poem: Brown Snake Skin Moult

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Susan O’Brien, who divides her time between Adelaide and the Fleurieu, writes of some summer finds.

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Brown Snake Skin Moult

Oh snake
I have your measure now
I have your skin –
it’s inside out
from tail to snout
as you slid away

I long to see you
out of your hole:
your lidless eyes,
your flickering tongue
that tastes the track
to see your shining scales
the sinusoidal curves
to build up traction
as you
swish through grass
to see your tapering tail
which curves
in turn
to follow
as you pass

I wish
and do not wish
to see you
especially as this skin
is long as I am tall
but most of all
because you are a Brown
and now I have your measure
who needs a showdown
with a Brown?


near the Big Dam
there it is:
a fox-exploded bird
dragged to a hollow
for private

Like a violent cast of fiddlesticks
a slew of long, dark pinions
and splintered bone
litters the ground

The skull, beak and feet
are missing...
what was this bird
so dark, so large?
no ibis has this wingspan...
I begin to fear
for the lone pair of wedge-tails
in this valley

I turn the carcass over
and to my guilty relief
this prow-like sternum
these white belly feathers
can only belong
to a pelican

I imagine the bird
off course
and out of context:
the long
lumbering takeoff
from the middle of the dam
too slow
too low
the fox leaping
and wrestling the bird
to ground...

Easy pickings
too easy.

Susan O’Brien lives half of her time off the grid overlooking the gorge of the Finniss River on the Fleurieu Peninsula, the other half in Adelaide’s CBD. Since recent semi-retirement from medical practice as a GP with a specific interest in mental health, she has started to capture her poems on the page, writing about what the natural world may present. Her poems have appeared in Friendly Street anthologies, and she has read them at the Coriole vineyard and on 101.5 FM Radio Adelaide’s Gastronaut program.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.

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