March 2022

Back to Issue 11

Palm Cockatoo

By B. R. Dionysius

Probosciger aterrimus


A body like a cast iron oven’s stovepipe as it tips its head 

To look you in the eye twenty metres below the lowland

Rainforest. Years of pressure: equatorial storms, bauxite 

Tailings dams with their orange chemical algae blooms 

& rumour’s wrack you encounter in the deep north; these

Cockatoos using sticks to drum up a mate, to orchestrate

Territory in the wet tropics, killed so their long black feathers 

Can adorn dream-catchers & spin commercial tales. Its kind 

That need the snug tunnels of dead gums to nest after some

Cyclone has ripped off a limb & termites have chipped away 

The fibrous marrow like a billion Stakhanovs at work. You 

Tracked it through sound, nuts cracking claw to mouth as it 

Ate & you watched each other for a red hour. The only noise 

the breaking of the world & only one of you doing their part.