The Levadeiro

Willo Drummond

On the Island of Madeira
                 where mountain firs comb water 
from clouds after dusk

the Levadeiro cools warming
                 tempers of farmers in drought. 
Across the Atlantic 

(on a coast by the Pacific)
                 I cycle round a place of learning 
in the lap of another mountain;

sail an avenue of palms
                 traverse El Camino Real.
Here morning fog masks 

silicon(e), dairy-free yoghurt 
                 politesse and privilege 
while TV news-breaks trill 

of ‘empty pool’ parties
                 to save a dry Cal. State.
Under vaulted windows            

light rains  
                 down      
on the pages of an adoptee citizen 

(who walked with placards here
                 who saw the Redwood bloom)
I drink songs of quiet deputies

sift bones of poems 
                 and dreams—
when evening comes

sleep rolls in like a blanket, stitched 
                 with a thousand precious needles 
to comb this life from the day. 

The Levadeiro is responsible for the control and rotation of irrigation water through the historic network of the Madeira Levadas; ‘quiet deputies’ is from Selected Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1902-1926 (trans., Hull 1947) p. 402, the passage was indexed by Denise Levertov in her personal edition of the letters.


Willo Drummond lives and writes on Dharug and Gundungurra land in the NSW Blue Mountains. Her poetry is published in Australian and international journals including Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review, Meniscus and TEXT. In 2020 Willo was the recipient of a Career Development Grant (poetry) from the Australia Council for the Arts. She teaches in the creative writing program at Macquarie University. 

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