I face the mountain as if it is the north of my body’s compass and climb, walking my boots and jeans dry. A golden eagle circles in the light that slices its way to Lake Como and I taste yesterday’s storm on the air. The noxious and the delicious nod their heads as I pass but I still can’t tell one from another, like I’m travelling with a map of the wrong place. The cows hold their wisdom modestly. we, the unseen know ourselves through other eyes so much action in the dark the crystalline palaces of minerals bacteria’s fractal multiverse we are the subterranean the swing and tug of the moon the gut of a cow her microbial oceans the vast clan of protozoa dark tides wash from rumen to abomasum you call us simple but when is energy artless? in the shadowed places we know death by its true name part of becoming is unbecoming we are all fragments of the whole I am utterly alone, yet completely surrounded, so warm in the suit of my skin the tiny lives in my sweat proliferate wildly. The sun is tilting towards the lake, the world swarming in every direction. An ermine gambols from the ferns and freezes. We meet eyes, its chestnut alertness allowing me no defence against its scrutiny. It stands, vest gleaming, then without a backward glance, slips back into its day with a liquid grace, while the valley keeps glowing with the gentle smoulder of summer.
Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet, writer and arts reviewer. Her most recent poetry collection is The Flaw in the Pattern (UWA Publishing, 2018) and her debut novel The Application of Pressure was published by Affirm Press in 2020.