Wandoos link hands to hold the gravel in place.
Salt scalds are edgy with big rains, and incipient
wheat crops welter in a green ghosting of algae.
This is not usual. The mission pillar to post, gates
to say the holy ones came and saw and olives
were grown. But where the snakes sleep,
ringnecks flock which is a miracle in itself.
Clumps of bush, fraternisation of York gum
and wandoo, even ruins of undergrowth
hang on, and high-up nesting hollows
bring energy and boost to the emerald
sapphire of accompanying birds. I’ve not
seen flocks this complete since I was a teenager,
and when one envelops us and we enter its cellular
body — as irritant or germs — its immune system
ejects us and the flock breaks away. Historic
buildings, boutique food label, cultivation
and labour and language drawn to crossroads
where bullet-holes mass and widen penumbra:
eye through crucifix overburdened with light
which blows the aperture, floods the picture.
But in the taints there is brilliance, and scrub
corridors make a weird legacy against the odds.
Can we sustain the notion of the few for the many,
will the largesse of sacrifice sell adequately
to compensate? I am inundated, I am
enveloped, I am gathered up in a rush
of ringneck parrots making the best
of what’s left, so loud, so orchestrated
we can all deny silence, the whisperings
of a savagely eroded gully, roots grasping
spray-percolated air — Roundup Ready —
and fall back into the spiritual plenty of tillage
that has driven snakes deep, deeper
than winter sleep.
John Kinsella’s most recent volumes of poetry are Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems (Picador, 2016) andFirebreaks (WW Norton, 2016). His most recent collection of short stories is Crow’s Breath (Transit Lounge, 2015). His investigation of “place”, Polysituatedness: A Poetics of Displacement, is due out with Manchester University Press late 2016. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University and Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University