Hawthorn Pepper


A pepper grows in Barker’s road
an out-of-place-and-context tree
a wind-frayed stranger crowded round
with urban, out-of-patience sounds.
Thin, swinging limbs and asphalt share
a littered niche where signs decree
that none may make a u-turn there.

A tree that should have scattered shade
where trellis-chequered light-shafts pressed
the patterns that the battens hatched
on broad verandah-floors and patched
hemp curtains where Coolgardies swung
and spread their hessian-scented breath
through pepper-shredded, slanting sun.

The kind of tree that should have been
a kelpie-shelter standing deep
in fowl-raked ground and sweeping rain.
It should have stood where gates hung strained
on mail-box posts. A tree that sprawled
on trays of drays or helped to keep
the slabs shored up in stable walls.

Instead its leaves have misered time
and seem to fan a scrape of sand
and tastes of space and dust and air
on asphalt-black, greened briefly, where
those sign-defying branches blow
above a grey, paved wasteland and
u-turn the years in Barker ’s road.

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