The Sprinkler

1 August 2015

‘Then a hagiography of sprinklers/ Blind survivors watching from inside’ – Lisa Samuels

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika

Listen to you chirruping on the lawn behind our moonlit curtain like a mating hydropter (the four walls of our bedroom traversed by the shadows of your flailing arms

Tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik click your plosives, restoring us to the sweet musty odour of grass and earth after weeks of drought (we lie wrapped in a single sweaty sheet sleepless

tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika tika jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak gush your strident syllables from the twin nozzles converting all obstacles in your path into thin rain shadows of themselves, scattering phonemes over the grass, you lulling prattler, not a single lullaby in your repertoire but the thin dry metallic rasping of a colony of crickets at full moon, shooting your mouth off with a cluster of Bantu consonants, compiling your own dictionary of an imaginary language without vowels in a mouthful of dental and glottal stops spittle and spume

tika tika tika tika tika tika tika jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik you soften the roof of my mouth with the vocables you release in each sudden sharp shower that tumbles into the neighbour’s thickets of bamboo or cascades in random spicules bouncing off the hard baked soil, collapsing in dazzling shards or snapped strings of beads caught for a second in a chink of light from the bedroom window as the burning bush broadcasts its seeds, flushing and sluicing its dialects of Sotho with the percussion of a kiss. I soften my mouth and cracked lips with the percussion of a kiss. Banished from the bedroom

I swing on the verandah in a hammock and hear in my exile a voice from the midst of the burning bush in the heat of the night and even your seed will join the dust of the earth whisper the sibilants, the flailing arms gyrating in a wavering ellipse, the bunyips dripping from the acacia as they emerge from their cocoons, immaculate pearly globules pulse down the branches of the wattle, the green hose glistens in the moonlight like the rainbow serpent and writhes in the mire as the mimi ascend from their ninefold underground river, breaking out of their clefts and crevices with pale mouthless faces

jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jak jaka jaka jak jak jak jak jak jaka jaka jak jak jak jak jaka jaka jak jak exiled and swinging in my hammock under the heavens, I watch the eyes of the star people gleam like beads of water dripping from the leaves of the Banksia, the fuchsia buds clasp miniature scrolls of pink papyrus in their clenched fists, the half-moon flashes and sparkles along the coiled scales of the Bunyip Boori, the spittlebugs shrink into the soil, heads lowered to their cold white knees like the souls of the unborn – until the keeper of the waters, the blue-tongued lizard, licks them off his brindled moustache and lifts the stone plugging the artesian streams; the swell surges and gurgles, bursting out it floods the plain as our snake ancestor snuffles off his spume and rises into the heavens to form a rainbow in a shaft of moonlight.

So that in all this milky infusion of light and overhead the galactic spray of southern stars merging with the drizzle and foam from the hydropter’s whirling arms churning out imitations of itself in the pools and puddles welling up on our front lawn, from the pole of an axis a point moved, tracing widening gyres until it assumed the circumference of a sphere, and from that sphere issued a voice rasping as if from a throat clogged with rust: awake and stir all you creatures that dwell in the dust, chirp and chitter through the night absorbed in your primordial world, your voice rising in concert with our so-called poet’s, tossing restlessly there on his hammock, grappling with his phonemes and morphemes as he attempts to create Alcheringa in his own backyard at this end of the wide world without end

Listen. His tongue moistened by plosives swells towards speech searching for his sibilants and aspirants yet he’s still cheerfully churning out simulations and representations of himself even as the critics are preparing their programmed responses, swirling in circles around their customary epithets (‘that cyclical, archetypal, that typically mythical, ahistorical world of his’) according to their established codes, even as he drifts into sleep (finally) and misses the poems he turned away from his door empty-handed, slinking down to the bottom of the garden, heads resting on their soiled knees, misses even the authentic mimi dancing silently in the moonlight among the nasturtiums, grins spread from ear to ear on pinched faces the colour of paper, on cue as surreptitiously as the thin stream of menstrual fluid inching down his wife’s thigh.

Ashwood, Melbourne, 2014

 


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