The Weekend Australian - Review



Lying beside my daughter as she sleeps I listen to her hodgepodge bedtime sounds: kitchen clatter, cars revving up the road, the spooling hiss of a story cassette at its end. Her stripling body is a tree, lips whispering like leaves. I hear her stomach stirring milk, her indrawn breath, think of its name: inspire.

She thrusts a hand out, holding back the dark, flings a sapling arm across my neck.

Feet scuffle like mice in the sheets. Her eyes open sightlessl­y, and look me in the face: dark gaze of numen, fierce and strange as loss. I hear the truth: the risk of life is death.

I have breathed her in; I can never breathe her out.

Esther Ottaway

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