I had forgotten how the narrow lane bucked and grazed
so close around the once-towering eucalypts (now smaller)
gravel grinding beneath tyres flinging pinging pebbles into the bush
scattering a small dust cloud as the car shakes and clatters on
smoke from burning scrub thick in the Winter air
black wattle groves growing close by the road
a mix of sapling green and long dead blood dry dark
and the silver scribble barks and river reds
hang their heads as the memory fades and passes by.
In the old backwoods country lanes bogged with manure and mud
fence posts silvered and rotten from decades of white ants and sun
hills older than cities shattered and scattered by frosts long gone
earth hard and unyielding beneath worn out boots as I scramble
towards the top the rise, a section of ridge riven and split
looming over a low, dim depression, a valley of blue gum leaf mist.
The lifting sensation, the separation of distance and time, heavenly
isolation among the shimmering shivering trees and whispering leaves
a dream, not unlike waking but different all the same, overtakes
and pressed into my senses, the touch of old rubble in my hands
sweet smell of burning in the far distance, the vision of green
surrounding and surpassing me, the total absence
of sound louder than a birds call or a branch’s distant fall.
I remain until darkness is beginning to creep forward
shadows growing and melting together under the canopy
kicking up dirt as I meander slowly back towards my
home? Maybe not. Maybe never. It’s been a long time
since it was defined and decided and built up around me,
since the roads began to crush the woodlands and diesel
fuelled dragons devoured or crushed the furtive creatures
and roared into the cowering wilderness, triumphant.
Sick, sinking sadness leaves a rotten taste in my heart
as I kick the car to start and sink into my seat defeated
back to spilling poison and breathing mustard fumes
pacing chattering in the shoe box room I inhabit
a dusty cupboard in the slum we call our planet
spent from wanting more and more, gaining less and less
before falling finally backward and fitfully into my bed.
No dream can take me back there
no memory, hollowed out and pulled around
could hide me among the lichen clad stones
and the dry bark bones of a forest
that no longer exists.