Blood and Berries

by Ella Kurz
Tuggeranong Hill, Australia

We park at the rim of town where a scar of cleared earth  
pushes bushland. In long-sleeved work shirts and hats,
we pull gloves over pale hands, wind ourselves into the hills. 

We’re here for weed control – bramble thicket. Carried
in the pockets of our forebears, its sticky berries nod
to a continent of hushed forests, summer meadows. 

Here, bramble invades dry bushland and damp, the hills
and waterways. We work in twos, one hunting looping shoots
that root wherever they find dirt. Always seeking new ground, 

the reach of each hooked thicket is unending. Thorns pierce
gloves. The iron-tang of blood drifts through the rose-like fragrance
of bramble leaf. We saw at woody branch, dab the oval wounds 

with pink poison before the white fleshed wood has time
to send suckers out of the wreckage. When our arms
shake, we trail downhill over thicket swarmed slopes, where –  

the land cleared for housing spreads before us like a sucker 

of suburbia. How similar we are, we and bramble. Uninvited,
we’ve inserted ourselves all over this country. 

And always, we reach for more.  

we wrap ourselves in coats,
walk the hills
to crouched rock.
                                  I hold the umbrella while my daughter  

fills raspberry leaf platters with seeds, stacks teeny twigs
on a fire pit, gathers grass-head candles, sprinkles
petal cushions over mossy beds.
                                                           She thinks of everything
someone who’s lost everything
might need. 

She’s seen towns sunk in brown water,
grandmothers squatting on rooftops,
dinghies poling main street.
She’s seen starved pets, dead cows flung across fences,
and silt-scraped lives stacked outside houses.

Another one-in-a-hundred-years disaster
in her seven
short years.

Our young are realising
                                            what’s been left to them

and I wish I knew what else to do
besides hold the umbrella.

After Too Many Days of Rain

Ella Kurz is a health researcher from Ngunnawal Country, Australia. She co-edited the anthology ‘What We Carry: Poetry on Childbearing’, authored ‘My Mother is a Midwife’ and received a special mention in the 2021 Bruce Dawes National Poetry Prize.