As it Develops, Shoes, Sydney, Hobart, & The Cloven Huon by Emilia Leonetti

As it Develops, Shoes, Sydney, Hobart, & The Cloven Huon by Emilia Leonetti

As it Develops

They bar us from the table

Because tonight the kings are dining.

The appetiser

Leaves of grass

Freshly picked from my mother's garden

Where I once laid on my back watching clouds

Where I bared my soul to my lover

Where I buried bones so my dog could find them

Sprinkled with lemon and pink pepper.

The main Cinder bricks

That encased us each night

Witnessed every single hot flash of anger

Each quiver of sadness

Each nervous, each forced, each hearty laugh

Leered at us through each act of lovemaking

Smelled each hot chicken dinner

Served with an extra helping of mortar. For dessert

The roof

Complete with tarpaulin

The roof

The sole protector of

Aggressive raindrops

Ferocious hailstones

Fierce sun rays

Provoked winds.


My weighted blankets, their napkins.

Curtain rods, their toothpicks.

The bath. A spoon.

Picture frames, now serving tongs.


They bar us from the table

Because tonight the kings are dining.

I can only see so much

Behind their banner

That says "Lend Lease".




When lazy clouds drifted on high

When sunrays punctured a tired sky I said goodbye.



I planned to close your door

Pick your shoes off the floor

No second try.



I had a brillo pad

Ready to scrub all the dirt and scruff

Your old Doc Martens had.



You closed the door.

Your shoes were strewn

Across the floor.


You said you’d always wash them,

You always said “next month”,

Like you were prey in lamplights

And I was on the hunt.


I’d always sigh and grit my teeth,

I’d always fold my arms

I’d always be the UV light

To your superficial charms.


God knows I’d put angels in strangleholds

Fight time with my bare hands

To make you see

I’m not your enemy

I’m not made of demands.


My arms are left unfolded.

My hands are callous and bare

From all the times they’ve touched my face

Now I know you’re not there …


Yet I will never wash those awful shoes

You always used to wear.



Sydney and I haven't spoken in six months.

The last I saw of her was through a raindrop-splattered taxi window.

She looked beautiful, as always.

Green leaves and brown trees accessorised her grey outfit.

She looked stern and industrious, as always.

Until that day, seeing her flat, grim face, she was my one and only.

I spent 24 years taking her name as my home.

I spent 24 years with my body in her playground

I spent 24 years sitting on her.

Which definition of "sitting on her" you conclude as the best choice is up to you

Since all apply.


I sat on her benches, sandwich in a paper bag, the one order I swore I would change

one day but never did.

I sat with my backpack, waiting 20 minutes for the next bus

to go one hour from a humble tree-lined street to the bright lights of boutique fashion stores

For no reason other than window shopping is the most aesthetically-pleasing passive activity I could do.

I sat silent in plush seats, thinking that if I had food stains on my white shirt, I was done for,

I was doomed,

it was over.

I sat on her beaches, thinking that my life was owed

To the vast expanses of water before me


Millions of people crowded behind me

They never saw me

But I saw Sydney.

I sat in Hyde Park

Among fountains so elated

And excited

Satiated, that

They squirted!

And millions of people crowd beside me

They lie next to me

They talk, they keep the rhythm

On picnic blankets

Their voices snare drums

They crash, they ride

And in their own special music

They didn't see me

But I saw Sydney.

I sat in her restaurants

I sat, even with jackhammer noise

And tradesmen shouting slurs outside

Because I loved her.

I ordered things outside my budget

Because Sydney and I

We were fragile and fleeting

And god knows if I was ever crossing diagonally

The man started flashing

And a car hit me

During my flashbacks

I would have seen nothing

Just me in a hotel room

With a coffee and a notepad.

Just me and Sydney not speaking.

A nondescript skyline in front of me

Where I could be in some

Midwestern US city

Or some beach in Cuba

Or some village in Nairobi

But I know for a fact

That I didn't know where I stood

All I saw was Sydney.


And Sydney didn't see me

But I always saw Sydney.


And I still do, through my window If I trace her skyline with my mind

And pretend she can see me.



People like to say

I make strange analogies.

It's true, I mean

Who doesn't believe that

The world's economy is managed

By those little blue aliens

From Eiffel 65's "I'm Blue" video?

Or that University was like

Being a sheep with a cane

Somehow comfortably lodged

Between the clefts in your hooves

Herding sheep in your flock

To another pen full of sheep?

Like ... you can see it right?

I see Australia as a classroom.

An old curmudgeon presides the space

His cane and his values from 1955

Dense, grainy, unyielding.

I sit beside Sydney

She and I have been best friends

Since we were babies.

Her in her Gucci suit,

Me in my Kmart rags

Ain't we a pair.

I speak to her

Her eyes are fixed

And so is her smile

No response.

Melbourne sits in front of her

Boho chic

The room does not switch on

Until she enters

She smiles like God himself


Screwed fairy lights between her teeth.

Her and Sydney never saw eye-to-eye

They just gave the school

Their daily dose of schooyard brawls.


Hobart sits at the back of the room.

I don't speak to her

You don't speak to her

No-one speaks to her.

She smells like apples and old, dusty books.

Her mouth is shaped like a large, twisted gash

Lines drawn on by the light from other peoples's light bulbs

She lives in a Campervan, you can tell

Because the world is etched on her face.

Sydney sniffs at her.

Says Hobart couldn't catch her hand-me-downs

Not anything if she tried

She's a bogan, a redneck

An old girl in a new-age world

I look down at my $10 Kmart sweater

I say nothing.

I say nothing.

Until the walls of the classroom fold away

Books become bark

Desks grow tall and sprout leaves

And leaves fall down and make wet piles in the grass

And there is Hobart and no-one else

Sydney in her large, Federation house only she lives in

Melbourne in her laneway with a latte

Brisbane on the beach

Perth in the paddock

Canberra in a chamber

Adelaide ... somewhere

And me with Hobart.

And Hobart holds out her hand,

I take it.


It feels like dry parchment

Like the world is etched on her palm.

We hear nothing except the trickle of nearby streams.

The dull, controlled thud of an apple

Falling onto a patch of moss.

She twists her lips together

And blows, the whistle of a wind

Tangles our hair

And my fingers twine around her fingers, gnarled

And air presses down my neck, the cold

Air the broom,

We the dust I breathe deeply

I shut my eyes



The bell rings.


The Cloven Huon















When you dragged me to greener pastures

Hauled me up a high dirt hill

To see the trees sprawl over grassland

See a mouth of river spill

I let the ponds and rivers catch defiant tears.

I let my heart rest until ...


When you loaded me on tin can flying foxes

All my childhood stuffed in boxes

I sighed, and sewed my wayward lips

Shut, my fists caught fingertips

That shook, and trembled,

And said “no, please”, but still I let my heart rest until ...


When you showed me paddocks empty

Present in a life idyll

Omniscient and secret-keeping

Prone to all a verbal spill

Since no one dared to traverse

The people-less barren scape avant,

The life and loves I knew once gone,

My vessel with feeling scant, and still I let my heart rest, until


The life that’s now is all at stake.

Silence a knife, home a cake

That’s poisoned with our words unspoken

What once existed, now is broken

My bed a sacred hiding place

My bed, a fort to save my face

Do not open these doors, they wobble still

My heart not resting, tears they spill

And still

You tear this house down

You tear this house down

You tear this house down


But even with a love that kills

And silence fills a house till it spills

And I pick up bricks with wordless tongue

And set upon this life of mine

And set upon this life of mine.


Executive Producers:

Sarah Hunt

Sue White

Daniel Henson 

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