The Shards

By and | 16 August 2019

A friend told me
she walked
the ks with
the tome on her back,
weight of exhaustive history
to understand that other ground
she traversed
I too cross the same ground
(but different)
sweeping over the surface
—and occasionally
seeing the surface lift off

Stuff is always breaking
At first the crack, and then
a longer fracture
till at last a disintegration and
the pieces left

In walking the return
to the calm
of the longer view, the pace at which
the meek set out

The shards we find in the fields
still-visible inhabitation
of ghosts
In the fish
in the sea turtles, the fragments
we call nurdles. We’ve paved
the inner lives of the ocean
with plastic. And
in the abandoned gold fields
the occasional glint
of tea service, of
what they thought civil,

The histories of rubbish are
our histories. Yesterday,
the middens of hard rubbish collection.
Next week, the how-to-compost
lessons. And always
the worry over humus, how
to build it. We housed
the dead before we housed ourselves
The critic meant the entombment
of corpses, but
the rest of the burial trove
counted too. That’s why
we unburied the urns.

News comes, unexpected
word of the poet
then come into town again
from time spent digging graves. The teller
outing herself as naïve
—that she thought this normal
for a poet, for we
who spend
time with the dead. These dead
those from the same field
of fragments.

State of emergency.
The ground
has been under emergency rule
since the ruminants
packed down the soil
stopped air
to humus,

And elemental trace,
reef. And finite
stuff. Infinite hunger.

Break a vase or
tea cup or saucer
or bottle or ginger jar
or back
and the love
that reassembles the fragments

leaves town
when the gold
is gone

That day
the shelf collapsed
a cataract
of Willoware found floor
Some bounced
I took to my knees
with the dust pan
Porcelain dust
while Sandra
gathered the shards
for a mosaic of brokenness
at jade plant’s foot
collecting dew

The tome on my back changes
but I always travel
with ghosts

Denim worn to frayed
irreparable threads

Extraction is the only logic
of gold fever
—and its aftermath
tailings lace
ground rendered secular

The graves the poet dug
generations after the gold boom
decades after the artists
his shovel for those
who stayed, though
the town appears on some lists
the soil he dug leached
with speculation’s grammar:
past’s future, future’s

Imagine that future strata
anthropogenic, plastocene
—landfill compacted
and uncovered
precious folly
reed of luminous hunger

I dwell
in the past of determined
reuse—of the labelled
“string: too short to use”
of the rag-and-bottle
merchant, greasy
skin scintillant
with waste
with imminent incineration

The artist
who proclaims her medium
context—her habitation
the county dump
the installation that tells
of fads, of land
sales, resales
of in attention

And I walk again
—in the inner suburbs
rarely find the shards
just abandoned bottles
I carry the poet of garbage
carry his proclamation
garbage is spiritual

Take only photographs
as if we ever
left a place pristine

I’ve been walking
every street of Leichhardt
recording every place
asking: how
does a place remember itself?
Imagine the schoolchildren
oozing out of busses
at the mine, never

If garbage is spiritual
this trash is also memory
middens of care

Think of the heat
that fired these fragments
these flakes
of ritual

Someone used the word
I think she meant a different place
place of feeling, bereft
but in the emptiness
(never empty)
the chips of porcelain
little scales of desertion

Old Willow, real Willow
Royal Doulton, Royal
Albert, Wedgewood, Delft, Spode
fine bone, porcelain
majolica, fineness
so breakable
ceremonial dust

(My pasta bowls (Target)
are chipped now I don’t know how)

The shards
the gold field shards
are lost time patience
I vision them back
in the field as you saw them
leisure shattered
liquidated inattention

Filter earth for profit
—depletion gilding
salt cementation
acid parting, distillation
the Miller process

Elemental remains
and what remediation

I read about US landfill laws
the layer
to protect from garbage leach
legislated 50 year aegis
of 60 years)

One foot
in front of the other
and so on

in place of cairn
of the regular path
pieced together fragments
the path we all make

Cross and recross
and recross
this is residence

An artist
found decrepit baseballs
photographed them
mossy, filthy, undone

Perhaps the tome
I need to carry
is melancholy
anatomise the ghosts
all that rubbish
just the scattered limbs
landfill the ghost

This entry was posted in 92: NO THEME VIII and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.