The Orbweaver’s Newer Volcanics
The Orbweavers | Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds | ink and watercolour on paper | 2018
Pre-settlement, Moonee Ponds Creek met the Birrarung through a series of ephemeral tidal ponds on a salt marsh floodplain – hence its earlier name Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds. The tidal ponds were destroyed through Coode’s engineering project of the 1870s, dredged to form what is now called the Railway Canal, a straight passage of water used for coal barges travelling north from the Birrarung to the railyards. In the 1990s, CityLink freeway was built over Moonee Ponds Creek’s southern reaches. Black swans and reeds resist and persist.
This poem also uses rhythm techniques, but in different ways to ‘The Lowlands.’ In this poem, and unusually among poems, the first line reads as connecting directly with the title, with the speaker in fact addressing the ‘Moonee Moonee chain of ponds with your reeds and your black swans.’ The connection between these two lines describing the ponds is then interrupted by the capitalised The Railway, which is followed by the first of only two full stops in the poem, a syntactical truncation marking a distinct shift in rhythm and history.
The second and final full stop of the poem occurs in the second last line, ‘and yet you still resist.’ (Line 11) Here, although there is resistance, the full stop again breaks the rhythm. But the poem does not finish here; instead the final line is bracketed ‘(Do not give way)’ (line 12). The poem bridges complex positions, acknowledging the terrible damage done to these waterways and their ongoing exploitation, without erasing their presence and continued resistance. While this resistance may be hampered by many years of degradation, nevertheless, this poem highlights the continuance of these waters.