By Fiona Wright
the petrol hand says,
short shorts on the Monaro, in July
'The best thing about winter here,
Yours is a crisp city. It curls its boulevardes
and scatters roundabouts like concrete confetti.
You call its CBD Civic and even the cars
merge more politely,
as if they too appreciate a bureaucratic queue.
We see space enough on median strips
for apartment blocks.
The auburn poplars soon
will turn stiff and grey as toilet brushes.
We gather bouquets of dead leaves
to take back home.
In a bar, the specials board proclaims:
If you steal my glassware
I will raise the price of beer
and offers a Kevin Rudd Special, for anyone
who's been beaten by a girl.
The punters play Dungeons and Dragons.
In your crisp city, you buy a mug of mulled wine
and a fresh-squeezed orange juice at ten on Sunday,
and a Shetland pony sits fat beneath gloved children.
The lake wears a border of cold cyclists,
and police in steel-blue overalls
walk labradors sleek as fish
on neon leashes.
The water seems riveted together,
and the grey buildings still remember
the dioramas they were modeled on.
In this staticky city, the air makes my skin
feel like toast.
The road signs are blunt, and dented.
Please Don't Speed.
Drink. Drive. Die.
It's a long way yet to the Big Merino, you reassure us,
but they sell apples out of car boots
beside the highway.