All through the flight you’ve had Cavafy
playing in your mind. Is it true that arriving here
is what you’re destined for? Call it homing
rather than homecoming, for once the airport
doors seal the vacuum of miles and time,
it’s as though you’ve never been gone.
An easterly blows from the night-washed hills,
the air is warm and soft as ironed cloth. You breathe
blue flames of eucalypt, till your body unlocks
its prodigal shape, and distance is cleansed
from your bones. Since you went away, your life
has lacked its tinder. You’ve tried to belong
elsewhere, gathered knowledge from scholars, bought
fine things. Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—you’ve carried them all
in your soul. But this place has burned in you
since birth, coloured your sleep with cochineal,
shrilled it cobalt blue, and your body won’t quit
trying to pull you back, searching for the heart
it buried in the dirt, a lodestone fired
in desert and sky, cooled in the Indian Ocean.
Blue flames breathe in you. Way beyond the rim
of the airport lights, you know there’s emptiness
as full as you’ve ever seen, where you become part
of the scansion of land, its accents of Spinifex
and schist. Gorges brim with a brazen edge.
A daytime moon spreads a scallop
of lace. Hills mount a ghost-hazed wave.
You wait as the bleach of afternoon light
darkens to the palette of dusk. Lilac. Plum.
Russet. Silver-sage. This land has archived
colour and time, when you press your palm
against the warmth of stone, you touch
the whole earth’s story. And if yours
were the only skin left behind to recite
from the chronicle of place? Embedded
in this dossier of rock, in ancient script,
are words which make sense of home.
But will you ever learn how to own
their shapes? Will this be your Ithaka?
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones