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  • Everything Is Speaking
  • Peter Minter (bio)

A response to Warren Cariou, “Life-Telling: Indigenous Oral Autobiography and the Performance of Relation.” Biography 39.3 (Summer 2016): 314–27

I go to sleep near the infantsbreathing bodies, a small herd of naturein layers of animation, the unknownunfolding identical powersdelivered through a gateway of heartsat body temperature. In a nestof sleeping birds, you’re the birdyou’re the baby, I can hear you dreamingfall forward into glistening swollen eyesmusty orange leaves, soft wettwigs, the wings and shells of insectsfragments of bone in capillaries of mosshumus tangled into nets emergingfrom the curve in the waterwayof night, wet roots and branchespebbles in the pit of the tree’s black torsomore moss in leaf litteremerging from bark, a currawong’syellow eye a single grain of goldstars in the dark foresta whisper escaloping spacewith the radiance of the worldlike a meteor blazing over the crestsilhouette trees eating fire as it falls [End Page 334] from the sky, consuming darknessin a well of the absolute coldI can smell in a long, drawn-in breathsmelling earth rock, a planetof mammalian fur                    a wind stirscomes up full of energylike a cold fire started in the centre of the planetI see a star blank in and outas a branch swings to-and-froand then gone again, the cosmosblinded by low cloud, black squall & spumethrown up into moonlight, rainchaos spent, all the starsblown into the bushI see them flicker in the black leavesand wet grasses. I get upand watch rain thrashunder full moon lighta flower growing stronger in my memorythe closer death comesto the window                    as a youngman I stood in a colour fieldthe sky liberatedan avalanche of sweet pollenin the wind, light pink apple& plum flowers, chordsof sweat hanging in the airgold spider webs and hot leavesshimmering in the breezewhite clover and dandelion headsriding a deep green poolan aurora of tributaries in the bloodall over branch tipsto grow a rich mantle of breathingwalking, speaking, hearingin a tunnel of windfalling from the sun                    even in sleep [End Page 335] beneath a dome of small whitemoonlit cloudsthe history of the humandilates in a dream of darknessa swan presented on a lakeof blue paper, figures of speechcurled up asleep on the hillsideunder murmurous starlingscoveys of quails, the eggs of dovespockets of eggs nestingin the roots of tall yellow grassesthick undergrowth & vapoura woollen cortexliving in roots by the wellshining nerves in websstrung out through the morninggas   emerging from the shadowof sleep, the children stiras a black cockatoo glides creaking overheadthe bright yellow sun on the cheekthe sun, the sun in the tailhigh over trees beating silentlyfeathers escaloping windthen I hear another,then another more black cockatoosI stand by the window, count fourteenemerging from the night’s limpid airthe sun on their cheeksin their tails, their creaking crysending stories out into the worldlistening for a signthat they have been heardby the world, and so the kidsbegin to squawk like the black cockatoostheir voices’ buoyancytender weights to swimthrough the hardwoods, the earstoring weight, the irisstoring colour, skin like a mirror [End Page 336] underwater, under air, a line of bubblesalong the spine in a line of teeththe tongue planting lettersof blood every vertebraein a forest of sweet reversalas leaves rise up in the larynxto choke epistemologylike a solstice, just like words and soundsare very condensed storiesevery word here is a cosmos, the kidsrunning round like black cockatoosin their pajamas           laterthat day I turned the cornerof the house, light coiled suddenlyin gold steps drawn from the sunthrough alder and hackberry branchestree ferns and grass, stripes of...


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