Valley

Jennie Long

 

Take a sprig of wottle, the seedpod of a mountain ash

Cupped palms dip into a hillside brook

Entwined tea tree in fingers & some pepperberry, just a dash.

 

Now dash! To misty crags at dawn when the cathedral goblins grumble on,

& journey, as far as the rocks will carry me

as far as I can trust myself to learn and to fall,

as far as the gum trees stand tall

(which very often they don’t at all).

 

But lower down in valleys green, with cattle soft

and paddocks mean,

a fairy lives in a wildflower stump, with a claybed bed & a lilypad lunch;

she collects bushcherry pits & petals downed,

a 5 cent piece and the leaves turned brown – she smells like sumac,

have you ever seen her cry? Those are the rains

which pass by & by, just look at the sky

 

the very same sky which hosts the Southern Cross on a clear night,

which sometimes boasts winter storms or sometimes just pure UV light.

 

The light crinkles the eyes of garden gnomes who shuffle their slippered feet

gathering herbs to garnish homes,

they roam for sage, rosemary and thyme,

 

but their time is borrowed, like yours or mine,

We live underneath the watch of this rhyme.

 

So remember the wottle, the swallow, the roo.

Remember the goblins & pasture dew

& the cows that mumble and the sheep that mew.

 

Down in the valley, not diagon alley or mustang sally

& not merely land to tally

but a low-lying home to ducks and geese

& a sea-level stay for the fairies and me.

 

Born and raised in Canada, Jennie Long is a recent Australian resident living and working in the Victorian high country. When she doesn’t have a pen in hand, Jennie likely has a paddle, endeavouring to see as much of the world from the inside a boat.

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