Beneath an Ibis

By | 1 August 2017

Stripped back to primal desecration, our hearts still yearn for unicorns.
– Peter Boyle, Apologising to Unicorns

In my dreamscape a flip-flapping strip of orange strikes the sky over Kunduz
as the kite trails a boy, before the hospital is hit from the air. I wander into a
museum without walls, rolling across Sydney’s foreshore. A vein of orpiment
runs through history’s sandstone, splitting the rock’s seam. During an interval
between blasts when I tune out from the news, I peruse the poet’s art, secret
sibling to music.

An ibis is searching with its ink-dipped beak for the natural environment
eclipsed by an esplanade. Oblivious, it picks at the word-swept earth.
What does it know of the day’s soundbite or a boy’s withered innocence,
fissures concealed in a landscape, as the world bends beneath? A bird’s
song listens to the whisper of its origins, an utterance under the fig tree
where I sit. The sun tips into late afternoon at the beginning of the solar
slip, and drops on a note.

The dream was a setting for a fable in a future time, a blue cloud weeping
its word-memories. Now it drifts, noctilucent, above a cottonwool world
impervious to the perils of a deleting image… An absence of unicorns.

The phrase ‘secret sibling to music’ was adapted from André Malraux’s Museum Without Walls: ‘the languages of art’ are ‘secret brothers to music’.

‘a blue cloud weeping’ was inspired by the title of Peter Boyle’s book The Blue Cloud of Crying.


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