The Outback

By Rollings, Alane | Chicago Review, Spring-Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

The Outback


Rollings, Alane, Chicago Review


All day I try to shake off thoughts that at night I lose in the place where I have what I want: the unconscious. But that continent where all that's happened or been thought is happening - everything but ordinary thinking, daily facts - may be more of what I wanted than I wanted.

He grows still; I grow still beside him. In sleep, we separate and go where we're not separated.

Coffee fields, copper mines, and coconut groves cross my mind, replacing thoughts. Now I'm in the outback of Down Under, its mist-heavy forests, its neolithic hills and plains.

Grotesque marsupials are beautifully asleep in a blue confusion of eucalyptus trees. There are bandicoots, rock wallabies, koalas. Egrets shelter in palmettos, and, in a billabong, a large starfish is standing on one arm.

An immobile wombat starts to eat, then sucks up bugs and leaves in incorrigible gluttony. I see myself caught in a vine and chew my leg off to get free. I leap, snatch, howl, and swing between exquisite greed

and panicky retreat. But consciousness is also disconcerting; I plunge down under once again: Kangaroo are bounding ecstatically toward a waterhole. They stop short; jackal may be waiting in the fuchsia bougainvillea. Each large and little roo, the rabbit-, rat-toed-, and the musk roo must approach alone. …

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