Mary Pearson Andrew

The tree with the lights in it.

24 February 2019


Our brazen pilgrimage
A budget flight to Geneva and a hired car

Reckless bumping over muddy fields
Bungled ninth grade French in a country pub

The old farmhouse with a motorbike parked outside
A letterbox by the door displaying the name Berger

We clutched beloved books to our chests, suddenly bashful
Beverly welcomed us in without hesitation, accustomed to this sort of intrusion

Charitably asked about our young lives over cups of black coffee
Presented a new book of essays as a souvenir

We followed Yves up to the hayloft to view his phantasmal paintings
The rainy apparition of a flowering lilac bush in the yard.

18 February 2019


A eucalypt in the yard cradled a nest for a devoted galah couple
Day after day they’d watch over their young
Forcefully expelling other birds who approached the tree
Leaving only to collect food for those expectant beaks
The intimidatingly primordial squawk of newborns ruling their days

It all seemed incredibly exhausting for the two adult birds
Did they longingly recall their previous lives of flying freedom?
Did they anticipate the day the baby birds would take flight?
Do birds suffer from empty nest syndrome?

You should put a metal guard on the tree to deter goannas
A few neighbours suggested
But I ignored the advice, trusting the parents’ vigilance
Not wanting to upset the natural order of things

I awoke one morning to frantic bird shrieks
When I stepped outside, the gum tree was ghostly quiet
I haven’t seen a galah in the bay for weeks now
Do birds mourn the loss of their young?
Do they ache at the futility of those weeks of servitude?

13 February 2019


While getting a cavity filled in a dentist’s chair in Los Angeles
I close my eyes and visualise the boat trip from Little Lovett Bay to Church Point
Untying from the long timber jetty and donning a sun-faded life vest
Lowering the two-stroke engine and turning the key
Glancing over at gum trees along the shore, dotted with white sulphur-crested cockatoos
The brief floating moment mid-journey when the tinny planes atop the water
The deceleration as the Pink Water Taxi’s floating office appears to my right
A customary wave at a fellow pilot as our vessels pass
Slipping the boat into reverse to slow into a park at the commuter wharf
Just as the sound of drilling stops.

06 February 2019


We left the city at dusk in your white delivery van
Cityscape abruptly morphed into Garden State Parkway conveyor belt of headlights and taillights and dark nothing on either side

The simplicity of the place was always most pronounced on nights like these
Transported from the city’s cacophony to the roar of waves crashing below the boardwalk
A Norman Rockwell painting of summertime Americana
Teenagers moved in restless clumps, looking for whatever trouble they could find in a town of summer homes, souvenir shops and a public drinking ban

I was already a young woman when I first visited
Yet somehow I remember it differently, as if I too spent the glory days of my childhood there
A twin bed next to sand dollar ornaments and framed nautical knots
Sundown dinners on the dock featuring your mother’s grape tomatoes
Your father proudly piloting his pontoon boat

I know the place is still there
Hurricane Sandy hit hard, but the boardwalk was spared
The black light back room still glows trippy neon nag champa behind the record store

Teens continue to prowl around — having always been young and thus feeling eternally so
Immortal, invincible
A seaside resort town oblivious to the passage of time.

31 January 2019


Perihelion and perigee
King tide floods everything
The grass will die but it won’t faze me
Full as the moon, I just want to feel free

New year but the same old me
Cicadas drown out everything
I try to write but my head’s buzzy
Don’t get much sleep, I just need to feel free.

27 January 2019


Cancelled plans led to a shortcut across the park
Climbing the steps to the house
Ducking behind a tree to jump out in surprise

You froze the tick as we know to do
Tiny slivers of pain spread down my scalp
“Anaphylaxis” I blurted out, unconfidently
As my ears throbbed and my throat swelled

The finest line separates the did not and the did
I watched her little sleepy gait wobble and veer
Too close to the edge and I nearly called out
But I feared my outburst might cause her to trip

And then she did and the nightmare was real
I screamed her name, hoping it could be undone
How often I forget how thin the line is.

22 January 2019

2 JANUARY 2019

The cheap stroller jams repeatedly between uneven sidewalk segments
My cold hands grip the handles — situated a couple of inches too low to accommodate good posture
My daughter chants vowel sounds to the drone of the plastic wheels on concrete
A canvas bag falls from my shoulder and swings at my elbow as I push along the city blocks
Charlie scans for children and playgrounds as I parade her past landmarks of my New York past
We slip inside St. Mark’s Church where dancers are stretching before a rehearsal
I pause to take a picture of Peter Stuyvesant in the courtyard outside
A picture I’ve taken before when a fresh rose was laid below the bust
I watched her place it there before she headed out through the wrought iron gates and into the city night.