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.