— Nancy Fowler
The long road across the Outback,
mile after dry mile
of seeming nothingness,
the only way
to see wild camels
scruff through the brush.
Station cattle gather
near scattered windmill water barrels,
resigned to their fate.
Outside Alice Springs,
tells of men’s business,
penis cuts in secret rites
of initiation into manhood,
a reminder of the world’s pain.
The women do not talk
of their passage
into womanhood, rape
at an early age, the lesson is the same.
The old woman silently offers me
a handful of honey ants,
a cure for women’s monthly pains
and for quieting sorrows of the mind.
Their sweetness of the ants
is a treat, a passing respite. In faith
I take her offering in my opened hand,
then lick and swallow as they bite.
Sweetness and pain, life.