Witness

Claire Miranda Roberts

 

“Mimicked song elements within the lyrebird’s display [have] been used as evidence that the song is culturally transmitted … a population of superb lyrebirds (Menura novaehollandiae) introduced to Tasmania continued for several decades to imitate model species that were no longer present”

— Putland, Nicholls, Noad and Goldizen, “Imitating the Neighbours”

 

 

Who bears witness.

The once-green furrows.

 

Sunlight filters through vulnerable tree ferns.

Mountain streams ventilate and turn the soil.

 

Grey mountain ash rise from auburn skins.

Lyrebirds mount their U shaped lute and archive song.

 

The lyre fans in a corsage of white fronds.

Remembrance is a corpse of trees and glaucous bloom.

 

An enclosed theatre of towering ferns.

It will be kept among us.

 

When petioles die they leave hexagonal scars on the trunk.

Whose characteristic shadowy forms combine relic verdure.

 

Whoever listens.

Birds and trees in broken silences.

 

Nature builds a vista.

Chanting a thunder-psalm.

 

The peculiar note of the lyre.

It holds the eye.

 

 

 

Reference:

Putland, David A., James A. Nicholls, Michael J. Noad and Anne W. Goldizen, “Imitating the Neighbours: Vocal Dialect Matching in a Mimic–model System,” Biology Letters 2 (2006): 367–370.

 

Claire Miranda Roberts holds an MFA in poetry from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her poetry has appeared in Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Blue Bottle Journal. She resides in Melbourne.

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