Year Zero

1 February 2018

There’s liquid water on Saturn’s
moon, plumes vent from its south
pole. We’re waiting for somebody
to crawl out onto the reflective
tectonically deranged terrain,
hoping to nail God to dark matter.
Wherever you live, First Peoples’
painted faces search for evidence
of a collective past. In town halls,
hard edged abstractions of sacred
ceremonies hang on whitewashed
walls. Your migration occurs an infinite
number of times. Hordes of lachrymal
ancestors walk from communal fires
to factories. Natives are made
on process lines. Metal ores burn,
metal feeds metal—in overtime to zero
hour—the language of solidarity, brutal
upper hands, and visceral fictions.
There is a restlessness in you. Wrestle
your dialect to the ground. Wake
from the dreaming—of Sicily,
of San Vito, martyr, patron saint
of the ancient port.

Here is the outline of a forest,
the ghost of our Californian Bungalow.
I catch white butterflies in plastic
bags and pin them to a tree (of symbols).
Tell me it’s cruel, animals grieve too.
How many silences, how many memories
hide in a butterfly’s wing?
It’s the third house in the subdivision,
where you improvise and merge
into Colonial farmhouse vernacular
and announce, I’m going to die here
like an old dog, under the kitchen table.

We worship at the altar of David
Attenborough, laugh at old ideas, dream
of UFOs and life on other planets. Watch
the replay of the ‘incident’. A faceless man
wears black trousers and a white shirt,
holds shopping bags in each hand,
stands before a column of tanks.
He looks like you from behind. Tell me
there’s nothing to fear. A powerline
snaps in the windstorm, pours white
electricity into asphalt. Call the fire
brigade even though there isn’t a fire.

I will crack this dream wide
open. I see your ephemeral wonder.
A disembodied voice announces Alpha
Centauri C, the brightest star,
is gravitationally bound to two
other stars, but appears as a single
star to our unaided future eye.
On the East side, plough your farm,
on the west side, the Californian Bungalow
looks like a church, the octagonal spire
drops dead butterflies on me.
The blending of senses—Listen
to the colour, smell the Sun,
taste the viscous wind
through the leaves, formless
shadows of time itself—then a mouthful
of your Mediterranean Sea.
The Californian Bungalow stands
on the frozen edge of ancient
Enceladus, ninth moon of Saturn.
The new suburb sits in the crater,
liquid water beneath the ice, fracturing
with the strain of time
and tides. This is your best year.
You are the traveller, the immigrant
again—full of knowing.

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