When I first heard your name
uttered by farmers and clearers
chopping out tracts
of our grandfather’s Western Woodlands
I could not fathom
origins of your contorted title
for I thought more of penetrating
steel tools, drilling
in the grasp of carpenters.
But then was shown among
blackbutts and casuarinas
your manic twisting green trunks.
What tortures twirled these mallees?
Was it suffering salinity
or surviving inland biospheres
here in these arid parts?
Perhaps, in youth, you gimlets blindly
followed progress of the blazing sun
circling the sky each day from the east,
your craning necks winding your trunks?
Otherwise, like the rest of the trees
you would grow straight and tall
only branching out to provide roots
with a private patch of shade.
Gimlet, we stand respectfully to salute
you as a worshipful dervish
of such semi-desert lands,
whirling with this spinning earth!
Note: Eucalyptus Salubris, also ‘fluted gum’ is a smaller gumtree prevalent in inland semi-arid areas of Western Australia and its common name relates to the resemblance of the twisted trunk to a carpenter’s gimlet, a tool for drilling holes in wood.
Glen Phillips is a poet and professor, born in Southern Cross, Western Australia. He has taught all his working life and is internationally published with some 60 books or chapbooks, numerous articles, short stories and poetry. Glen is Director of Edith Cowan University’s International Centre for Landscape and Language in Perth. He has 50 published poetry collections, many including his own paintings, drawings and photographs.