Young Love – Rosanna Licari

You were young and I was younger.
Holding hands, kissing,
you would have gone further.
I was afraid I’d be stuck in that place,
surrounded by factory fumes
and the polluted water
from the refinery at Kurnell.

Your father fished out there
as your family had for generations.
Long before I met you,
my father and I would go to the pier
to catch yellow tail and flathead.
On weekends, the neighbourhood children stood
on the sandstone wall
watching the sea fill with jellyfish.

Land development scoured the seagrass beds
preparing for the runway and the port.
The fish disappeared.
I still can’t help but rely on childhood memory
to retrace the old coastline:
When you crossed Botany Road
at Wilson Street and went down Fremlin,
there was a boat ramp right at the very end.
You took a left, around the back
of the golf club to the pier,
or a right, into the park
to the swings and monkey bars
and headed for the shore,
to the wall that’s no longer there,
claimed by Foreshore Road
and the to-ing and fro-ing
of cars, semis, and trucks that roar
towards Port Botany, Matraville cemetery
or Sydney airport.

The Bay remembers the spawning grounds
with every gasping take off.