Valediction

for Martin Harrison

 

Margaret Bradstock

 

Born in Stars, We Live on Earth as Poets

                                                   −  William Blake

 

Amidst petitions for Sunday’s rally against climate change

education cuts, and all the other head-in-sand

disasters promoted by a Machiavellian

government, an email arrives, telling me you’ve died.

All your life on hold, a memory

before you become the vessel of your words.

“Poetry is the key to experience,” you said.

 

Choosing “Seeing Paddocks” for the anthology

from poems you’d sent, discovering you

through your created landscape, I found a heart attuned

  to the earth dream, the land dream, and was glad.

Some things disturb perception, flicker of shadow

  and untruth, like emptiness, a car’s slipstream

the placement of death.

 

Driving past the out-of-kilter façade of UTS

 on Broadway, I will always think of you

one day reading in Gould’s Book Arcade

  or talking to students, the next, found by the roadside

near Brooklyn, your generous heart stilled, Wollombi home

 quiet, awaiting your return.

 

Before our dust

goes back to glittering stars, we will journey again

through the no-longer-green forests

and grieve with you, numb elegiacs watering

a dry landscape. In a broken planet

we have to say what’s true.

 

Margaret Bradstock has six published collections of poetry, including The Pomelo Tree (winner of the Wesley Michel Wright Prize) and Barnacle Rock (winner of the Woollahra Festival Award, 2014). Margaret met Martin Harrison at many readings, and consulted him over contributions to Antipodes: poetic responses to “settlement”, which she edited in 2011.

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