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Terrible, beautiful

In the weeks of solitude

Their feet began to walk in new ways.

Straight lines started to swerve

Routes became circuitous, rambling things,


The ways of birds.

They noticed things.

The day the silver fungi bloomed 

like a spiral staircase up the wet tree trunk. 

Or when the orchid on the tabletop unveiled its throat, 

those freckles of magenta and gold

An opening as momentous as any night at the opera.

Capacious yellow trains rattled high above

Muddy bush tracks

And silent streets

Past the empty commuter carparks 

Where children coasted over vacant gridlines

On bikes they’d had time to learn to ride.

They would wake late and sleep early

And wonder at the need for suits.

They would notice carefully tended verges

The dead wood cut away, the shy new sproutings of seeds.

They would sit alone in quiet gardens and watch 

Iridescent sunsets streak the limitless sky.

And they would wonder

Had the world ever been so terrible, so beautiful



Elizabeth Holland is an Australian writer who lives in Sydney. In 2016 she won the Sawmillers Poetry Prize for her poem Crisscrossing. She has been a finalist in a number of poetry and writing competitions, and had her poetry and creative non-fiction published in anthologies. She is currently working on her second novel while seeking a publisher for her first. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth might be found urban sketching, swimming in the ocean or picnicking in beautiful places. She tries to do something creative every day. You can find her on Instagram on emhollandwrites.

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