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Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

Spring Loading (it all happens in-between)

by John Kinsella

Winter’ tries to be ‘winter’ but out of kilter

the whipped-up fronts and temperature

fluctuations change emergences and regressions,

and we ride the erratic currents. Orange splintered eye —

oracle we are drawn into, compelled to discuss

as best we know how, dragging a-priori

and dredging precedent in the heady moment

all surface and rapture under the Milky Way,

and those false prophets we dream over,

all those reassurances that our way is the best way.


Nonplussed in the encountering moment,

mesmerised or infiltrated by spikes of tissue

formed to replicate all mysteries, not just

tawny frogmouth language and knowledge.


And Tracy tells me Len Collard, who is greatly

respected in this house, told Tim that Tim’s totem

is the tawny frogmouth, and today in half-

formed light I note the play of York gum

bark and how camouflage is a condition —

that what we see is what we want to see

which is no great revelation until we

come close to the tawny frogmouth

unhindered, and its bark-like feathers

seem an almost frictionless surface

over which the slightest air current

rolls in perfection.


And we hear

how Guru, returning from Jam Tree Gully

after a day mowing, saw another

tawny frogmouth poised under

the rising moon, poised on the front

gatepost of the York house —

below the ancient mountain, Walwalinj —

news compiling between dwellings.


Guru also tells us of an echidna

he coaxed off Burgess Siding bridge, guiding

it to the safety of the near bank.


This is all

in the sunless aura of the Perth Art Gallery

I visited last week with Tim. We saw

Australian and American nineteenth-

century landscapes wherein the land buckled

under the gaze of the classical subject fled,

and shadows hadn’t yet been let loose

from the palette, quick to curse

the lie of the land.

And when I looked at the fella

staring into his dead fire  in Down On His Luck,

I said, Wait until darkness falls

and the frogmouths test the light, show

another way of pushing back loss.

Published: May 2017
John Kinsella

John Kinsella‘s most recent volumes of poetry are Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems (Picador, 2016) and Firebreaks (WW Norton, 2016). His most recent collection of short stories is Old Growth (Transit Lounge, 2017). His investigation of “place”, Polysituatedness: A Poetics of Displacement, was published by Manchester University Press in late 2016. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University and Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University.

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.