A Twist in the Tale: Wallabies

Black and white photo of young girl on city walkway with six pigeons on the ground by her

By Jenny Kalahar

So much about nature is discovered while you are a child, or when a child comes into your life once you’re quite grown up and think you know everything there is to know about trees, grass, birds, dogs, and marsupials. But, when a young person starts to explore and asks you questions, or wants you to share in their explorations, that’s when animals and plants can come alive again in your soul in a way that was likely forgotten.


“I want to see the wallabies”
cried my tiny girl when I lifted her up to bed.
She dove into her quilt, marsupial-pouch-like
kicked out in kangaroo kicks
said she needed to see them once again:

She would not be talked out of it
so we dressed and had a cup of milk
put on our red canvas shoes and walked uptown
over cracked sidewalks lining shadowy bushes that bowed aside
through the bedtime dusk

Block after block she bounded
my little joey, my tiny girl.
The air still gripped fragments of daytime warmth
and was full of dancing breezes
that played in my daughter’s braids.
They reminded me of wallaby tails
all bounce and balance and joy

We met dogs and cats along our way
but none would interest her past a glance.
She had to see the wallabies:
“Wallabies!” she repeated with a grin.
We had walked and bounced only to see the wallabies

It was late, but the never-closing laundry sign was still lit.
The dryer vents were like a furnace for that alley
where we stepped silently, reverently
daring to stand bravely close
to that living wall of bees.
No hum, no flutter of their wings
no sign of life, but they were there
inside that two-story hive

We swore we could see it slightly vibrating
in the dim, refracted alley light
as if the hive dreamed of pollen and flight
even in the early drowse of night

She got to see her wall of bees
to inhale hive scents in the breeze
bee exhalations, sweet and fine
that odor intoxicating

My girl saw a single, late-traveling bee float close.
She held out a finger to give him a slight touch.
He kissed her thumb goodnight
then slowly twirled until he found his own, warm bed.
And so, we two, with hands again entwined
turned and bid that wall goodbye
satisfied, a golden honey in our veins.
With our tails half drooping
tired but exhilarated
we happily half-bounded home.
I kissed her thumb goodnight
lifted her and tucked her in up to her chin
turned off the light and slowly twirled
until I found my own, warm bed

Jenny Kalahar, her husband Patrick, and their pets live in Indiana where she sells used and rare books and writes novels and poetry. She is the author of a fantasy novel about teens stuck with the worst-ever magical power,This Peculiar Magic. Her two novels about fostering cats are Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, andThe Find of a Lifetime. Her collection of nostalgic and humorous poetry is One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. For more, visit her blog.

More from Jenny:

The Littlest Raccoon

The Wonderful Pigs

Roscoe the Rat Bakes a Cake

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