Great Notion Road

1 June 2014

God is in Heaven. The fish in the tank
in the Thai restaurant, Exhibition Street, Melbourne,
will never see stars fall.

Neil Armstrong rocketed a quarter
million miles to the moon,
a long trip for a small step.

A sign beyond Westgate Bridge
marks our slow progress under the sun
one kilometre from Ceres. Armstrong is dead.

Let us debate who first saw the lighthouse
come over the rise at Split Point.
Wild horses of cloud ride the sky.

Where the sun dips, I fell behind
the retinue on that ridge above Fairhaven.
I will look to the east for your return.

From Erskine Falls to Teddy’s Lookout.
above the St George River Estuary,
voices tumbling over stones mouth clichés of beauty.

The road is sinuous as the sigmoid colon,
continuous to Apollo Bay. Ocean to port,
land starboard. No Apollo splashdown.

Not Armstrong, not Aldrin, nor Collins would pay
to enter the lighthouse at Cape Otway,
so they circle the Bight in spiral orbit.

There were Twelve Apostles. Only nine remain.
Peter, Andrew, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Nathaniel,
Judas, James and John signal the astronauts over the bay.

There are no astronauts, but the angels came down
through a gap in the clouds, just beyond
the limestone pillars, an excellent home for birds.

That fish in the tank knows nothing of wind farms,
nor of sheep on the road to Mount Gambier.
It may bang on the glass, but never will walk on the moon.

The lighthouse at Robe is of modern design:
three concrete slabs with a globe
in a cyclone and barbed wire enclosure.

The fibreglass lobster claws at the sky
from the roadside café at Kingston,
the first crustacean beyond Port Fairy.

When the fish left its tank, Armstrong rose up
and the crayfish broke free from its moorings.
They tyrannised sheep by the salt pans of Coorong.

Armstrong to Aldrin: ‘Buzz, on the moon,
there were no wind farms, no lighthouses,
no fibreglass crayfish.’ ‘Desolate!’ says Aldrin.

Across the causeway on Victor Harbor,
we walk by moonlight around Granite Island.
I was alone when I saw the rainbow.

As the ferry docks at Penneshaw,
a fur seal flicks its whiskers. Silver cars
slip down the ramp like pilchards.

From Kingscote to Seal Bay,
red earth and grey-green scrub,
divided by tarmac from fields of canola.

On the ironstone road to the Marron Café
there are no fibreglass crayfish. The marron
in the tanks go well with chardonnay.

If God was an astronaut, what would She say
to the Cape du Couedic seals at play in the cove
and all the marsupials killed on the road

back to Kingscote at dusk? Wallabies burst
out of the scrub, bound back and forth
in the path of the car, into the scrub again.

The road from the Cape Jervis ferry
branches left to Adelaide, sinuous
along the valley to Yankalilla Bay.

On the Florieau, ghost gums and lavender farms,
roan Angus beasts and black-faced lambs,
all toast on the way, under the sun.

On long hauls through space, do astronauts dream
of summer love, or crayfish with fibreglass claws?
Ask the fish in the tank! Armstrong is silent.

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About Andrew Leggett

Andrew Leggett is a Brisbane author of poetry, fiction, reviews and interdisciplinary academic papers. He also works as an editor and a consultant psychiatrist in the men's health field. He holds a research master's degree in creative writing from the University of Queensland and is a confirmed doctoral candidate in creative writing at Griffith University. He has published two collections of poetry with Interactive Press, is working on a third, and is in the process of seeking a publisher for his first novel.


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