It begins in water, the human spirit. It lingers amid fresh green floating weeds, until the time comes when it must re-enter the world.
Rusty Peters, artist and Gija man.
From behind glass
in a train, travelling
blind and articulated as a worm
I caught its shimmer.
A brush dipped in cobalt
has painted new grass
earth-set roots wander in water
a lustrous green and blue oval
its edges vague as twilight.
The trees wade like skinny school kids
one with a hoard of blue-winged kookaburras
in the crook of her arm
all beaks and crests
so that I hover at the water’s edge
like a dragonfly with its wings in wide arcs
transparent with hunger.
Elysian underworld, the fragrant surface,
the near heavens are clouded with feathers,
that mingle each time a jabiru
digging for file snakes or eels
strides alone through clear pools
his pronged toes in wet earth
and his glossed green-black wings
flap-fill the sky.
shimmies, thickening with flying
saratoga and long-necked turtles nose
among sunken pandanas roots
their ancestors are drawn in ochre
and x-ray on cave walls.
Organs and dry season fat on the inner eye.
Magpie-geese steer hatchlings from rush cups
through paddling-fields of wild rice
a river-dwelling ray skims the shallows.
It waxes, all of it, white and pink lily flowers
red claw, prawn, the trilling of bee-eaters
jacanas with their long toes on point
making glissades across green pads.
And the billabong will wane, regular as the moon
(all of it)
or the human body
tucked tight as a joey
until it swells wide and roo-tall
until it curls small as death.
Seeds of life and lotus
will be locked in a dim hard earth
The dry, Gurrung, licks up blue flow
that hole is where the spirits in this underland
linger, and they dream of Gudjewg,
the season wet with green floating weeds.