Your cover is the khaki-green of earth, a colour that
distills soils and hints at your vocation. It frames a landscape:
Pencarrow – bisected by a dark defining strip,
the land reclining on its hip, before narrowing to a tail.
Somewhere further off it will vanish, as you vanished, an otter,
into the sea. Clouds are streaked with guano, although the birds –
there must be birds – have been absorbed. The foreshore
is bleak, stripped of all but breeds of bush, which angle
themselves against the wind’s unbroken onslaught.
But the sand catches fire, there is a light coming off
the sea and even the sky looks ready to ignite,
were it not for those earth-coloured bands
that marry with the scene, holding the present steady.
The question is not whether, but how it will come back,
the land, the winter afternoon. Will it return in its raw state,
as a plenitude of little bays, each joined to its horizon,
the primitive, the unconstructed moment? Or shrink,
the instant you start trying to recall, to a handful
of windswept crescents – each one of which tugs at you,
eyes, mind, heart, and demands of you language?
Remember how, expended, a shimmering spot will dwindle
like a star. Words that hatch in its place let in contrast,
other homes and habitations that wash alongside
in your bloodstream. Washing Pencarrow out?
Someone will ask. Shaped by encounters with elsewhere,
you possess answers. No one more attuned to catch
the twang of solitude adjusting to the ancient, variously
grounded, call of home. But let them turn your cover over.
You were born to that backdrop, to rock-littered bays
where tussock grass is blown towards the shore. There,
puffs of pale colour transcribe the wind’s elation.
Ivory through yellow, they light this stretch of beach,
witness to a kind of rapture in this unpeopled landscape,
passed on to your daughter, resilient as a gene.
- Michael Jackson, anthropologist and poet. The cover of his selected poems,
Walking to Pencarrow, was painted by his daughter. ↩
- 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: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith 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