Fish must swim three times/Le Lacrime di Fico, Joanne Kennedy

Photo by Joanne Kennedy

Riba mora plivati tri puta: u moru, ulju, vinu
Fish must swim three times: in sea, oil, wine

Franz Ferdinand died, and the men went to war,
calling women from homes to tend to the groves.
My baba was born to a mother whose hands
were worn as she hung olive wreaths
on the door.

“Fish must swim three times: in sea…”
Girls could not swim in the blue Adriatic
so she waded in secret (in shame) and in fear
of the smear to her name that would render
her used – discarded goods like an
olive bruised.

“Fish must swim three times: in oil…”
A woman’s measure was in what she achieved –
raising babies, gutting fish, chopping wood, planting seeds –
but her hands that could push down the press ‘til it spat
out green liquid gold – could not glide
through the sea.

“Fish must swim three times: in wine…”
By ’44, a mother to three and two years
away as a refugee, in a desert that held no promise
of sea (or oil or wine) save Sundays, when fear
mixed with wine to bless wretched
survivors’ tears.

When baba passed over, we ate fish bathed in oil,
sang Daleko Mi Je and drank water with wine.
We picked virgin olives that danced in the sun
as we scattered her soul in the blue Adriatic –
she could finally swim, and be home.

Le Lacrime di Fico (The Fig’s Tears)

Oh dad! I wish you could hold on for another spin around the sun.

Every July you wonder why we celebrate getting older.
We say ‘Because you can’t see around corners and one day…’
As you approach apogee,
and mark time through others’ grief,
know you taught us well –
to plant garlic in May and pick figs when
milky sap pools on top like creamy tears –
and after the last condolence is uttered,
and the gate is bolted,
we will bite into the fig we saved for you
and our tears will mix with sap
as we taste the sweet, honeyed flesh of your life.

Download PDF

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!”


Download PDF