Whangarei: The fantails came

In this poem, Tracie Lark, reflects on loss under lockdown from her garden in New Zealand, and the unbridgeable distance separating her from her family in Australia. Unbridgeable for her; but not for the birds.



Willy Wagtail. Illustration by Jess Parker



The fantails came, followed at my feet, and I thought they were here to warn me

of death but they just wanted to pick the bugs from overturned stones at my feet.


The fantails came and hovered at my window, and I thought they wanted to bring

me luck from ghosts of my ancestors but they just wanted to pick at the maggots from a squashed fly on my desk.


The fantails came and I thanked them for their warning and luck, and told them I had accepted that death would come, so just pick the bugs from my wasting thoughts and go already.


The fantails came that morning you went, they hovered, fluttered, pecked, squarked, were relentless for my attention, and I told them I could not cry.


The fantails came instead of the willy wag tails in the quiet of the New Zealand bush where I was locked down and could not reach for you over the ditch.


And the willy wag tails came to visit my family in Australia bringing them good luck

from our ancestors and to guide nan across the river under the full rose moon.




This story was shared by Tracie Lark (The Literary Gangster). She was born in Sydney but has called Newcastle, Melbourne and Indonesia home. She now lives Whangarei, New Zealand where she teaches English to high school students.


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