My cousins & I made a new home for the farm dog
between two grey toes of one of the Cypresses.
If you know them, they are inauspicious:
they have done their job as uncomplaining windbreaks
for decades, even approaching centuries
in the case of the big colonial cattle holdings.
They are indentured to the full-scale mollification
of the Southern ocean on the basalt plains.
In their native Monterey, they tend the other way,
risking life and limb for a random cliff
on the Pacific coast. For wont of an ocean vista
on retirement, they exist in a state of relict parlousness.
As working trees out near the farm’s boundaries,
conversely, they get few visitors: a lone cow,
lost on a very hot day; a cast-iron bath with brass feet
always too confused to be a water trough.
A full stand of Cypresses makes its own
acid rain of mulch; an understorey of prone brown
needles, like the landscape after Mt St. Helen’s,
or large-scale cropping, or the Tunguska Event.
We had to dig through broad deposits of that stuff
first, and we had no need of implements,
small hands being enough to rub away the resin
and the rain, and its weak attempt at sediment.
After all pawing out a kind of triangle barrow
in the actual soil, I think we commented how
dark it was down there: true dark, like
an isolation cell, or your first harrowing go
at blind man’s bluff. When they say Cypresses
are nice, and evergreen, this is a massive misnomer:
in domesticated form, their foliage only exists
to shake down the sun if it tries to evade
a real no-man’s-land of overlain boughs.
We rested the straightest sticks we could find
to make a roof for the tomb, then, in semi-
resignation already, floated funeral roses
of paddock grass on top: a chance attempt
at warming thatch. The poor dog rejected the whole
proposition outright, tumbling most of the roof
structure down upon her frantic back
during a scurried, instantaneous scramble out.
Here was the shortest-lived of many efforts
to make something habitable out of monument.
It was a huge, overwashing relief for us,
walking out again from under the Cypresses’ function:
its powerful message to the barbarian enemies
of mixed-use farmland, of animal husbandry in general.
Instead, back to open plains: a freezing, uproarious wind,
and an almost oneiric morning sun, rebuffed,
but half-heartedly, by sets of pillowy palms.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith 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