Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 93 
by Christine Townend
Road-kill kangaroo and wedge-tailed eagle on Barrier Highway, far west New South Wales (not in any way intended as illustration). (Photo: Teya Brooks-Pribac)
The kangaroo lay on the road edge.
His struggle had shaped a saucer of mud;
His tail, thick as a python, stretched inert
over the puckered earth,
his back legs disconnected pistons,
as he hauled himself, ceaselessly looping
the circle of his capture.
The great chest of muscles
churned uselessly; he struggled
to flee the human stench, the brutal flesh.
Once he had stood at the edge of light,
sitting on wide haunches,
paws lifted to his jaw
as he tasted the dried grass,
whiskers wary to the wind.
He had passed fox holes, and the steel-jawed trap,
travelled under the sun’s streamers;
no shade beneath his fleetness.
We lifted him into the boot
(no vet here,
in these wild shreds of ancient scrub).
Starched with fear,
his eyes moved like trapped wind.
Soft yellow faeces soaked the hessian sack.
The jeep lurched in the track’s wide holes.
There was dust rolling the air,
and silver myalls,
twisted by years of warped seasons.
Back at the homestead Neil came from the kitchen.
The gauze door slammed. His boots
stirred the splintered floorboards.
He held his rifle to the furred forehead and fired.
From a neat hole, flesh-lined, blood oozed,
as if it wasn’t sure, as if it was waiting
for the fleet, silent mob to pass,
as if the kangaroo would stand again
and leave with them swiftly .
Still alive, he looked at me,
and I, turning to Neil said,
shoot him again. Quick.
Christine Townend holds a doctorate in poetry from the University of Sydney. She worked as managing trustee of Help in Suffering Animal Shelter (Jaipur, India) from 1990 to 2006. During this time she and her partner Jeremy founded two more animal shelters in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. She also, much earlier, started Animal Liberation in Australia and, together with Peter Singer, founded what is now called Animals Australia in 1980. Her collection of poetry, Walking With Elephants (2015) is available from Island Press.
Read another of Christine’s poems at post 58 .