The Dam Outside of Town

To get to my ex’s house, I take

the road that charts a gentle

curve out of town, past the dam.

A curve that claims young men

full of beer and dumb bravado

all the time, it seems.  I watch

weeping metal pulled too often

from the deep pit at the edge,

they take the wrong line out of

that orbit, far too fast, an arc

that could scribe the circuit of

a satellite if it held its nerve,

caught in the gravity of the water.

I pass the dam twice a week,

and every time I pick up my girls

they seem less glad to see me,

hollowing behind their mother’s

skirt, full of that poison she’s

been telling them, or he’s been,

but when we pass the dam they

smile and talk about that time

we went there fishing, and they

paddled out into the water, their

blond hair disappearing like a ripple

in the belly of that blue expanse.

On the way back the car is empty

and I spend the journey thinking

of the water, running my wheel over

the centre line in drifting reverie.

That was a perfect day, one I

wish I could hold onto forever, but

now she’s saying that she’s moving

somewhere else, and this little ritual

of driving my daughters past the dam

will have to end. Maybe I will

take them one more time, before they

leave forever, maybe I will hold them,

like a ghost of hair and light and water,

take them on that road that passes by the

mesmerising powder blue of sky

captured by the dam outside of town.


Damen is a multi-award-winning Queensland poet.  Damen's prizes include the Moth Poetry Prize, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize (joint winner), the Newcastle Poetry Prize, the Val Vallis Award and the Magma Judge's Prize.  Damen has been published in journals including Southerly, Overland, Island, Southwords and the Atlanta Review.  Damen's first book of poetry, Animals With Human Voices, is available through Recent Work Press. (www.dameno.org)

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