Robertson Panegyrical

19 May 2004

for James Fagan

Out where sun-sweet grasses bat their stalks
at stumps and living trunks of silver gum
slender leaves in susurrating fall of blooded green
and grey, where piney hulks are switching
misty arms to fencing sky and cockatoos

break succour from the scratch of sappy cones
before shrilling departure, whump of wings
and flash of jewelly comb, where jumping jodies
teem cyrillic etchings over littered bark
and dew's unparalleled horizon softens

even raking steel that hunkers idly
by corrugated rounds of wisdom's error
roofless and raw, where treelings bend
as sails to weather's lick and all description
loosens in its scaly bed to fly

uprooted from the facing page of this
encyclopedic echo and assay, my brother
humming for the sake of things and hurling
twigs and lichen stones far into blue
as he imagines reels to catch the crash

of matter's weight in foliage and field.
You sound he says like a bloody angel.
On as cloud comes scudding from hills
toward the coast with metal salt
fizzing upon our tongues, adventure

promised in broken bough and ragged sheer
of wire, riffing on every sighted rook
and keeping step for step to contours learned
by rote or road, wheeling drift of flies
robbing focus as they hug his wake

billowing as smoke in glancing light,
on to cross alchemic ground between
this paddock and the next where diesel
slops from cans and technicolour pesticides
seep colloidal ruin, on as evening's rain

begins to deck the slickening posts
and polish knotted iron enfolding
nominal lines of residence, as startled sheep
retreat in jerky trot to safer quarters
only to start again with bleating stutter

and gallop, on as shadows gather
palming lumps of rock from hand to hand
never stopping neither seeking home
but circling displaced and distant,
ever close, the cool world closing in.

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