Ash Shirvington

The pit in the centre of a gemstone

We eat mango on the mountain
in your backyard, flies
licking on the juice.
Ocean salt stickies the air,
even here, past the roads
where Land Rovers hit wallabies
like it’s taxation: the leftover joeys
we raise, when there’s time.
There mostly isn’t.

Mostly, there’s just lychee trees
on the scuffed roadside by your house,
those grassless fence lands, cows staring
as you peel with a fingernail
the water growing above their heads
and eat the dribble flesh,
droplets on the ground the beasts will lick
when the heat drives us away.

Later, we carry eight mandarins
across the stinging bitumen, to the beach
where we pacify danger
by holding the slices up to sunlight
and thumbing out the white seeds.
Last summer, we saw a pelican
hold itself against the light –
its bill, pink tissue,
showing us
its shiny silver fishing hooks.

Late afternoon, we sit on the veranda
as the cat licks the red juice
from the spoon you used
to tap pomegranate into the glass bowl,
when today’s final consideration
is whether you eat the seeds,
or you spit. You say,
The tree grows either way –
one is just inside you.

About the Author

Ash Shirvington (he / him) is an Australian trans man writing on Quandamooka country. In 2023, he was awarded second place in the State Library of Queensland’s Young Writers Award. He can be found on Instagram @ash.s.writes..