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Illustration by EM Mierisch

Instructions before forgetting

A poem by Eunice Andrada.

Illustration by EM Mierisch
Illustration by EM Mierisch
No birdsong nor alarm could pull me

from the murmurations. I rise late,

rubbing my hard edges against

the surface of day. Even the softest light


grows a husk over static matter.

My love has gone to work, leaving

a bowl of figs in his place. Today’s promise:

a walk around the block,


a phone call with my grandmother,

whose hair follicles shiver from chemo.

Language returns to the morning —

praise the cherry tomatoes


I blacken on the stove.

Praise the cells that die and regenerate

to weave a new skin. I thank my Maker

for a body that forgets itself.

I come to remember —

there is no lover nor fig

to mark the end of an hour.

The ones I love are deep


in the tangle, untouched for months.

I must crawl into the wet labyrinth

of vine, my ear pressed against the earth,

listening until it is safe to follow.

Eunice Andrada is a poet and educator whose debut collection Flood Damages won the Anne Elder Award and was a finalist in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the Dame Mary Gilmore Award. She is a judge of the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry in the 2021 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

This poem appears in Openbook Autumn 2021.

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