My sister is a somnambulist.
She has walked the length of sleep
in her childhood home
around the deck of a river cruiser
and into the arms of a home-invader
who woke her slowly, singing
Nights in White Satin.
She handed him a porcelain pig
and a plait of her hair
coiled in a cedar box.
He proposed on the spot
but she declined, insisting that sleep
interruption would be hell on pillow-talk.
He left with the pig and box of hair
waving and walking backwards
into a hole in the garden, where a metal spike
opened his leg from thigh to knee.
In the hospital she fell asleep
holding his hand, and on waking
unlaced their fingers and said
farewell in two languages.
He came by six months later. She saw him
limping up the drive, and did not respond
when he knocked and called her name
as though it were
a rare breed of raptor, and he a falconer.
As if to demonstrate, when laid open
how red and green are commensurate
with leaf, vine, and being eaten
I arrange halves of watermelon
the seeds like tear-drop
terminals on printer's plates
for a guide to the nature
of blood and skin. I consider
the taste and texture prior
to science being slipped
into the water, back when
you could determine ripeness
by slapping the rind. Now
to lift and palm the weight
to try and summon acoustic
resonance from the centre
the wet equivalent of heartwood
what I hear is more
like resistance, as though
its inner music had been made
refined through years
of harvests in a lab
the new generation farm shed.
Anthony Lawrence's most recent book of poems, Headwaters (Pitt Street Poetry, 2016) won the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. He is a Senior Lecturer at Griffith university, Queensland, and lives on Moreton Bay.