Darkinjung Burning

Luke Patterson

 

begin with a circle facing a fire aunty

lit under the blinking pink and kindle

dawn moon nevertheless still splashing

in the breeze rest handfuls of striplet

sprigs moiety-up arc an interspecies

intimacy until a dozen landscapes egress

with a eucalyptus lungful and the supernatural

appear commonsense in tempered embers

this is not a mourning poem you see

places are totemic uncle dips bottlebrush

dew admits life begins with yellowbelly

 

*

 

untroubled chuckle in gestures

the way the land-owner cites edible plants

surveys the shape the colour of eyes

a course of native spices peppers cosmopolitan

phenotypes he smokes a pipe with a timber

pulse and jokes how he plundered through

Dark Emu in a week thanks god for the

seasons urging to get on with business

eat biscuits wait for the wind to calm

sheepish hawks circle thermal pockets

birdsong warms the valley lips

 

*

 

didn’t fall from our mother’s clacker

with a pair of clapsticks in our hands aunty

calls a tenure of love a labor of warmth for light

for ceremony for hardening the point spearhead

the facts face the leviathan that chokes

the undergrowth and wraps its brambled body

around the roots untouched scales a forsaken

gallery this toothache country uncle growls years

of gub-abo leaf litter over his old shoulders

letting in a little peace of sky clearing

the air which left untended is prone to ignition

 

*

 

auntie yawns two-stepping with a willywagtail

driptorch in her hand tilts yolk from an egg

little min-min ooze out dance fiddle-footed

nothing cataclysmic no holocenic genocide

no pyretic extinction just a fizz seeds pop tickle

lick with a pitch and chimerical taste of species

in cahoots no war but a wash of living soot no

breakneck rush but simply slips down the slope

flush like a droplet down the wrist a murmuration

of carapaces and critters scurrying up trunks

a breath before a din no woodwind lakestorm

no brouhaha only the heartstrings the burning

dipthong unbuttoning years of flora and flesh

lost on the logophile we walk and talk on a hotbed

of rolling bio-semiosis side-by-side a wandering

phantonym in mnemonic attires cool to the touch

and calm as wallabies watching in the distance

 

 

Luke Patterson is a Gamilaraay poet, musician, wood carver, and folklorist living on Gadigal lands. He is currently writing a suite of anticolonial folk-ballads for mandolin and voice.

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