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Special N.04 – The Herbarium Tales

Cladonia praetermissa

by Michelle Cahill

He said the algae grew by themselves, but the fungus would not. I should have liked to have heard more but he fled, so did Miss Smith the Librarian.                 
                                                                                                  —Beatrix Potter
Some nights listening closely to rain on the shuddering roof, the stern heresies 

as rain spills over eaves, gurgling past pipes to gravity led stormwaters 
 	       I think of your secret spores    	numinous feet         
                                                                                  podetial fruitings 
gluey outcrops, reindeer moss of the rock face

 			                  pampering leeches, invertebrates

			                  vegetal artefacts of empires’ decayed idioms  ̶

Cladonia: meaning, from Latin : New Latin, from Late Greek kladon-, 
 	          kladōn sprout (from Greek klados)
 			                       praetermissā: (feminine, singular) meaning permitted,

                                                          neglected, overlooked
vulnerable as truth.		

Again, rain hammering us to infinity, 

so, a swollen river serially turns humanoid to debris		

an ellipsis, dragged by tidal syntax.  	Cows sculpture embankments, the broken levee, 
 	        from overbrimming weirs cars get bogged, shops mud raked.

The day of the Bucha massacre brings waterfalls of torrential, dirty grief, violent rain  ̶

	     And after, for weeks and for months, the musty waterlogged decay, 

meshes of quill, cotton, fur, crust 

invasion of sovereign soil, crime of genocide. 

It is hard to take in this darkness, every death, every destruction a document.

I rise and walk to the slushy forest of drip pools and sequined orbs,

Light strains through canopy, 	
                           the weight of war and fiduciary wrangles 
            I climb down step by step, collaged and composite, armed with camera

            drawing resemblances, word shapes in my breath, their floating sms

 			                              of hope 		               ruffles 		     digressive frills

                          peculiar algaes 		   smashed, abbreviated Guernicas  ̶
  	                  How the birds seem innocent of carnage, each inexplicable fact.
Collected in 1999 from Darkinjung country, this Cladonia praetermissa grew on soil in a dry sclerophyll forest.

Herbarium specimen images were provided by The National Herbarium of New South Wales.

Published: November 2022
Michelle Cahill

Michelle Cahill’s debut novel is Daisy & Woolf (Hachette, 2022). Letter to Pessoa, a short-story collection won the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Award (Glenda Adams Award) and was shortlisted for the 2017 Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Award. They were awarded the 2020 Red Room Poetry Fellowship and twice shortlisted for the Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Vishvarupa. They live in Guringai country, Sydney. They are the artistic director of the online literary magazine Mascara and co-editor of the anthology Resilience with Monique Nair and Anthea Yang. 

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.