The ground has changed beyond claim of classification –
clay or sand or silt, percentage between. This is something else,
ash-dark as tannins in water, salt-lake still. The photographic negative
of another place, another day, tree trunks skeletal in flood-plain
light, all light, all liquid – Branches hold back the dry weight of sky,
propped between bare earth and cloud-burden. Know this is
not barren. It takes to learn its colours, and takes away – not fragile
but pushing back at the event, all impulse, resisting force.
That instinct: map damage and explain, excuse. A burn-off, out
of control. Boards peeling at the corners, hangdog,
dates shadowed in red: the universal sign of fire
or the colour walking under our fingernails,
countered in the lurid sensibility of new growth,
and the depth of white in every footprint.
Catherine Noske is a lecturer in Creative Writing and editor of Westerly at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on contemporary Australian place-making. She has been awarded the A.D. Hope Prize, twice received the Elyne Mitchell Prize for Rural Women Writers, and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award (2015). Her first novel is forthcoming with Picador.