Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Great Western Woodlands

IMM Veronica Brady

I merit merrit and what names
stood longer and will stand again
thin rising to blue sky to charred crow
to red wattlebird and honeyeater
to drown at the foot of waterbush.

Driving east into the Victorian
Mallee, and then the emptiness
of grassed plains that weren’t
grassed plains, where trees
are windbreaks to be harvested,
the essence of the Western
woodlands is clarified.
Its loss would be
an act of terror:
those emptying ‘farms’
that would come in its stead
blank slabs of old-before-their-time
graves, all creation knocked down.

Quandong is a shrub I was
overly familiar with as a child.
In the woodlands I cherish
it for its fruit, and for itself.
It speaks — listen, listen.
It wants its own space,
gets on well with its neighbours,
can take human projections.
But to be deleted is not in its vision.
It hears the pain of loss
as sandalwood does.

We see a lone emu —
we see a lone roo —
we see a lone eagle —
we see a lone ant
making its way home.
They are going somewhere,
having somewhere to go.
This is more than human
intuition. This with the certainty
of a Dundas mahogany
rising out of quartz,
feeling the workings
of the hole-in-the-ground
nearby. Nibbling away.

This great lung,
this great mind,
this great flesh and blood
and cellulose entity
is the powerhouse
of body and soul —
it is the vastly regional,
it is the specific and inclusive,
it is the everything we are.

            John Kinsella

This poem appeared in print version of The West Australian newspaper in September, 2015.

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