Martin at Waddi*

Jacqueline Buswell


His star shone in a nearby constellation

but I only saw Martin once, he said

he´d failed to consider his translator

with whom he then worked for hours


on the rendering of “Patterson´s Curse”.

He had not used “Riverina Bluebell” –

an easier term for a wordsmith

with its markers of botany and place.


I don´t know how the poet and the translator

fared through skirmishes of noxious weed,

pretty flower, purple haze, malediction

and the question, did Patterson matter?


In the past when I saw Riverina plains

overwritten in mauve, I´d see the spectre

of a thin man with a hoe limping across

the paddocks of a soldier-settler block


cursing the weed, the war that led him there

while his wife never dared brighten

their table with bluebells in a jug.

Now I see those paddocks and imagine


the purple ribbons in ideograms

under different skies

I see Martin and the translator

pitching ideas over the boards


in agitated swings from the local

to the universal

vowels rising and falling

with the breath, finding their voice.


* Clouds Near Waddi by Martin Harrison  from Wild Bees, 2008


Jacqueline Buswell was born in New South Wales, and studied at Australian National University before working as a journalist in Sydney. She lived in Mexico for more than 20 years and currently works as a translator. She completed a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney in 2011. Ginninderra Press published her first book of poems, Song of a Journeywoman, in 2013. Jacqueline met Martin at an event discussing poetry and translation at the University of Technology Sydney.

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