Poem Digesting a Poem

Rachael Mead

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.

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