Pick-a-Poem: Judith Beveridge


Hello, blog readers, and welcome to another installment of Pick-a-Poem. As always, we have a new poem to feature this week. If you’re looking for a new poet to read, this might be the place where you discover them. All of our poems come from Poetry Daily, which is a great website on which to find new poems. This week we feature the author Judith Beveridge, whose featured poem is entitled Fox in a Tree Stump.

According to her page on Poetry Daily, Judith Beveridge is an Australian poet who has written four prize-winning collections of poems, including The Domesticity of GiraffesAccidental GraceWolfe Notes, and Storm and Honey. She has been the recipient of the Victorian Premier’s Award for Poetry, the Queensland Premier’s Poetry Prize, and, in 2005, the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for excellence in literature. She is the poetry editor at Meanjin and teaches at the University of Sydney.

Fox in a Tree Stump, by Judith Beveridge

I gripped the branch
and waited in a paddock that ran on
over harder and harder earth.
Leaving me with smoke and the stick
to beat the fox, my uncle drove off.

Terror barrel-rode through my stomach.
I knew my uncle, his quick rabbit-skinning hands,
his arms like dry river-beds dammed at the shoulders,
his voice harsh, kelpie-cursing,
would not understand if I let the fox run to the bush.

Fox-hairs of dust sweated in my palms.
I stood in the exhaust of leaves
the short time it takes a tongue
to reach into a hurting body and strike ashes.

A twig snapped. The fox stood, coughing.
The branch on its neck
rang like a shot:
a shot so loud it shook out a flock
of galahs from their trees,
cracked like a wave
the buried sleep of rabbits.

When my uncle came back, he threw
the charred body into a ditch.
I turned away kicking earth over the bloodspots of fire
and prayed not to waken
another animal from the wheat.
I was nine years old. All my life
I’d stuck close to my yelled name.
I was a child praying for the dark
each time the sun caught my uncle’s eye.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem. For more of these kinds of posts, you can click right here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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