Black Summer/The Commuter, Ila Winterburn

Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

Black Summer

Before the rain came
we forgot that the grass was
supposed to be green

and the cows all looked
like starving Hollywood starlets
with their ribs exposed.

On the day I hatched
my escape plan, the water
tanks were getting low –

so I took two minute showers
and watched the dust collect
on my bathroom window.

Before the smoke cleared
we forgot that the sky could
be blue. We watched the

cemetery burn
three times, while helicopters dropped water
like bombs on the graves.

I made lemonade
with my bare hands, till my knuckles
were cracked and bloody.

I gave it all to
the firefighters, so I never
made any money.

When the first raindrops
kissed the ground – a great hush fell
upon the crowd.

In February the
mosquitoes all hatched at once
and followed me around

for weeks; biting my
neck like little vampires. The
rain lingered in the

air at dusk, so the
train tracks smelt like petrichor
the day I skipped town.


The Commuter

Daylight breaks the sky,
tumbling over chimney stacks.
–     Businessmen waking

with black briefcases and
polished shoes. (They wonder if
their hearts are black too.)

Trains thunder by
early morning commuters
with drooping eyelids.

A clock ticks over
a stove top, while the tea kettle screams
“Murder! Murder!”


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Ila Winterburn

Ila Winterburn is a queer writer who grew up in the Dunghutti nation on the Mid-North Coast. Ila is currently studying English Literature and Screen Production at Macquarie University. When she is not painting or Op shopping, she is writing poetry and short stories.