Milk and Honey

By | 1 December 2013

What would have been
the poem for you

has become an
over-riding sense

of the day – taking it
for granted, as one does,

with its drives, its houses,
its office – all the

non-specifics by which
looking back, a

huge sun-lit series
of changing moods

like grooved flat space
becomes a bare plain,

a wide riverless upland
under a lowering sky

which might be precipitation
threatened or passing over

or a storm building its
folding and unfolding

cabbage-leaves flung into
measureless altitude

in some dream
mountains. Cabbage, that is,

and acanthus. And
the mountains? Are they

mountains? Yes, the ones there….
The ones which ripple up

confused with cloudbands,
bulging across the skyline

like wadding or
insulation bats coming

loose in a roof. The
mountains are

both barrier and
points of escape, whether

going into them or over them,
offering their sublimes of

amethyst depth (sunset)
and exhilarating breath-

inhaling sunrise
salutations of

viewpoints (views where
we linger as if first light

will never shift, as if the
aquarium of specimens

will never empty, the ground
never be fully

exposed); or they’re
the promise of a

country farther on, which
must be better, more

riverine, calm beyond
words or exclamation –

a “sea-change” valley
where black swans float

like silhouettes on
permanent silver water

overhung by paperbarks
whose boughs are

mirrored in shallow
translucences while

across the fence ginger-
toned cattle trundle

through deep grass, plantain,
burdock and reed clumps,

leaving overhead
a few inland pelicans

to anchor their
beaks and gullets

way across in the blue. Having
crossed the mountains,

there it is – beyond thought
and desire. That said,

this is a day brimmed
with both those things –

impulses, wordless concepts –
too many thoughts to think

and aching desire and not just
mountains, frustrations,

plangent memory: all the
elements of the everyday

mind. I know no
moment free of them

once I have left
rare meditational calm

which is a brief, settled
state (how to stay there?)

even though, when in it,
I can hardly get up

to open or close a window
or switch on a fan and

it renders boiling an
egg an impossibility.


Your poem is no egg.
Perhaps, though, it is

a smidgen or diminishing
imperceptible degree

closer to one than
any act of language

which somehow must
carry unbearably complex

feelings, intangible
depths of response and

an agreed way to think
and behave —

all out of order with
the intrinsic simplicity

(yes, I’m talking about
love again – really, yes – )

which shines through
every moment of

reflection on loss or joy.
Perhaps, rather, on their

memory where it would
be good to get the connector

between them: there would be
no drift, there would be

certainty in the system
and an adequate balance

of information: night-fall,
bird-twitter ceasing, the

rise of cicadas and frogs
like a border or fringe

holding an instant darker
world together, neither sad

nor ecstatic. Did the egg
hatch just now? did

ancientness and its im-
measurable swathe of time

allow the instant to drift
apart like the continents

are said to have done,
trapping each of us

in a few molecules swept
nowhere in surf, glitter, dust?

Good to be at one with them,
to bless them and be blessed.


I work all day and in
the night – at last it’s come,

cooler, not too heavy, almost
free of worry – I stay up to

add some words about the
stillnesss of a down-hanging

branch of flowering
lemon-scented gum –

it dangles over the
back verandah

beckoning gliders and
possums to their mutual

love of mouth and blossom,
nectar and shoot, their

leap, screech, squeal –
a pure ease with vacancy

out there beyond the
tree’s glimmering net.

Across the gorge a shooting-
star goes down behind

the mostly patchy range whose
fires were months ago:

the star glitters a second,
two seconds, being debris

or satellite or some meteoric
flotsam, through leaves

and powdery flowers
outlined looming in the dark.

Alone, the poem’s climbed that
rock-strewn, twig-charred slope

finding its well-watered land. It’s
for the future. It feels.

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