Poetry

anneal this breath

ANNEAL | heat up and cool down
slowly; soften and strengthen to
eliminate stress that accumulates
through time; forge an open
response to resist and shapeshift
without  losing  one’s  essence.    

_______________________________________

 

mine and refine this float of molten
landscape              raw silica-sand and
limestone sites          sliced and stirred
and hot-shop forged               we
witness excavations of targets and
melts       a redaction of origins      of
lives  of lands                    
         see what a breath can do

 

 

flux and bubble           rise to fever-
point and sweat             hot flesh on
flesh      so carefully laid           rested
and hung                        body-broken
to sway          see their shadows cast
low in the sun      just what they
wanted            what a breath        what
breath              
         see what her sorrow can do

 

 

what a love                  a brave pure
love      this one grain of sand that
refuses to disappear           the
slightest fissure to rupture and
dissect an unbearable fantasy facade
she seeks heartbeats and bloodlines
she exhumes humanity
assembles beauty to nurture and
grow        
         see what her love can do

 

 

our screams soar into mighty blue
skies         dust to dust          bury them
deep          we scratch up to the
surface              all flesh cinder and
ash    their charred revelation     what
we’ve always known     their silence
translucent       she is patient        she
waits                   she inhales and
exhales        she waits                   
         see what her breath can do

 

 

recognise this breath            gifted
from Old Ones            lessons afloat
in the wake of time       a warm
breeze-like dance on shards of
shadow and light               navigate
their caress            the gentlest of
touch        she will hold their breath-
deep      for as long as it takes        for
as long as it takes     to furnace and
shape you a story                           
         see what a breeze can do

 

 

a perfect wall of brittle display     a
cultivation of whiteness              stolen
and displaced               she seeks paper
and blood           where bodies are
traced    she gathers them near      this
suitcase of breaths         to one day
rest      she carries in case        in her
case     in her                          
         let us see what they can do

 

 

these shimmering dreams       not
what they seem         a fallout mirage
of epic distortion             from furnace
to fission and shrouds of black mist 
to poisonous shards of green-to-
black            we bear witness      to
defiant life        to a mass of
destruction           to her fruits her life
to her body her strength her blood     
  now  see  what  her  breath  can  do 

 


Commissioned for the catalogue of the Yhonnie Scarce exhibition Missile Park, which opens at ACCA this weekend.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 27, 2021 as "anneal this breath".

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Natalie Harkin is a Narungga poet living on Kaurna Yarta, South Australia, and author of Dirty Words (Cordite Books) and Archival-Poetics (Vagabond Press).