Storms rushing down from Wongan Hills —
it’s imperative to clear the gutters,
drain the trap after such a stressed dry.
Even now, it’s forty-three centigrade.
So, I go out, and the trap yields only
a trickle, and inland thornbills are anxious,
hopping near my feet, and I know I must
raise the lantern of my blood onto the trestle
to empty the gutters of dry accumulations,
under a blunt, brutal sky of prophecy
for all that’s gone down in this region of late,
the fewer trees to take up the slack,
the fewer cockatoos to short-circuit a rampant
craving for electricity, the burning-up of our
fossil identity, our ancient selves, our interiors.
And in the anterior world I rise up, and thunder
just far enough away to make the act not quite
foolhardy, though as I scoop the leafage
and scatter it to the dirt below, I wonder
if this tempting of lightning — a serial encounter
in parallel circuit — might actually be my last.
I hurry the job, removing feathers of five species —
thornbill, ‘28’ parrot, magpie, robin, and weebill —
as I go, plus the down of fledglings I can’t identify,
and the air thickens and simmers and the leaves
I hook out are covered in arrays of wasp galls
that have burst open, dried in their moment
of abjection — think the pods from the Alien films,
especially as earlier today John Hurt passed away
and the alien that burst from his chest knows its DNA
is willed-on by the greed and corruption of the industrial-
military complex — cometh the man cometh the hour;
though far more sensitive analogies are forgotten
with the storm-threat, with thunder short-fused.
I know I must descend before it’s too late, pondering
my relationship with this space on the radar,
and all I have seen and all I have talked through
with friends and family, have gestated deep
inside an electrified psyche bamboozled by static,
the dry about to be broken, ruthlessly shattered.
John Kinsella‘s most recent volumes of poetry are Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems (Picador, 2016) and Firebreaks (WW Norton, 2016). His most recent collection of short stories is Old Growth (Transit Lounge, 2017). His investigation of “place”, Polysituatedness: A Poetics of Displacement, was published by Manchester University Press in late 2016. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University and Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University.