With the theme for the Watermark Literary Muster in mind I’d like to share a few poems from my own backyard. I’m fortunate to live on a largish block with a reserve next door and a beach on the other side of our hill. Dominating the garden is a very old eucalyptus globulus, alive with possums at night and visited by all kinds of birds during the day. Here’s my homage to its presence in our backyard …
my eyes light on it:
it fills the window
Strips of bark
hang from its limbs
turn this way
and that, slowly
stroking the air
like a lover.
Behind it, beyond
the fence, is the scrub
and the rich silence
of small creatures.
At night its shadows
stir the dark, moved
by starlight. Sometimes
the moon visits
and lies for hours
in its branches
feeling safe there.
This is where
my life is
planted on the edge
roots holding me fast
to gather the wind’s
the moon’s honey
and to brush the wild
dance of the sky.
The next poem was written when I was in the Blue Mountains, thinking about home.
At home late strawberries will ripen
slower than blue tongued lizards steal
beneath the bird netting.
The weeping cherry will discard each leaf,
parsley and silverbeet bolt to seed,
honeyeaters drain nectar from the last red grevillea.
The Cootamundra wattle will hoard its gold
to lavish our midwinter with opulence.
The beach over the hill used to be accessible only by walking over private farmland. It has now been subdivided and a few houses built where there once only paddocks. We can still get to the beach – in fact we have steps down to it now, and fortunately 2 of the new houses have made their properties Land for Wildlife. I wrote this poem when the surveyor pegs first went into the ground.
Surveyor pegs section the land
to our secret beach –
A gravel scar slashes
bracken and brown pasture
haunted with lanolin scent
and the scattered vertebrae,
whiter than surf crest,
of last year’s early lambs.
At the twisted eucalypt
the dozers didn’t fell,
a family of iridescent wrens
flickers in thin shade,
while a white-breasted sea eagle
carves its orbit across a winter-blue sky
and four black cockatoos, with harsh kee-ows,
wing low above their shadows.
Soon, the sealed roads and water pipes,
gardens fenced and flowering,
window-glass seared by the flame
of new dawns, domestic cats stalking
the shy bandicoot and potoroo
as the gauze of a snake’s sloughed skin
crumbles to a whisper
and the midden on the outcrop by the shore
dissolves into windborne sand.
The poems are all published in Designs on the Body.
I loved your poetry. Every line. My favourite lines are “the rich silence of small creatures.”
I live in an apartment now in Sydney but in Perth I had large gardens and my last home had reticulation and at night all the frogs would sing because they were happy (I think).
Anyhow I just wanted you to know I very much enjoyed reading it.
Thanks for the feedback Sue! It’s so nice when a poem strikes a chord with a reader. I’m sure those frogs in your Perth garden were happy. Our frogs must be ecstatic right now as it’s pouring down, but the sound of the rain is drowning out any noise they might be making. Last time it rained like this the banjo frogs in the dam over the hill could be heard celebrating for days from quite a distance away.