The Sound of Red
– on seeing our neighbour slaughter the Jersey calf
My mind refuses this memory.
I think instead of red, of a dress I once owned, of walking
the streets of Naples, of tomatoes and chillies in a summer garden,
of a teenage brother accelerating out the drive
of my daughter slamming the door – a beyond-words slam.
It is the sound of embers, of fire-talk, of distant caverns,
ancient times. I can feel these things, remember them; though they’re things
I can’t know, things etched deep into ancestor memory, hard-
wired in my brain. The thud
of tides and rockfalls; the pulse of air through forests and plains.
But blood returns. Blood like red like a history I can’t read.
This is the blood that swells the heart’s cave: magenta, crimson.
I was the oldest child. I thought I knew what death was.
When he took the blade to the calf’s throat I didn’t breathe.
His daughter, younger than me, held my hand.
As soon as I could, I let go.
Alison Thompson is an Australian poet and story writer. her poems have been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas and she was Highly Commended in the 2018 Bridport Poetry Prize (UK). Recently she has been accepted by Art Omi for a Writers Residency for Spring 2019. She is a longstanding member of the Kitchen Table Poets, based in the Shoalhaven region of NSW. Examples of her work may be found at her website – https://alisonthompsonpoetry.wordpress.com Alison has two chapbooks published with PressPress (www.presspress.com.au), Slow Skipping (2008)and In A Day It Changes (2018)