By | 1 July 1998

Cook stands on the shore at Farm Cove: it is the past.
Sydney surrounds him. Low green apexes of land
slash into the harbour; above blows the open-heavy
of the sky, some equilateral clouds. He is not a simple
man. Banks carefully traces specimens; others
of his crew insert themselves, finding unseen views;
outstare blacks, hook strange fish. Cook does not
have questions. Haberdashery in Staithes is everything,
he sees: he knows that there are no ‘new data’, that all
phenomena are a single kind, a thing of the world
can be neither explanans nor explanandum. Really he
has not left Yorkshire, has not stopped digging in his
garden, is still in church in London, singing. Drink
machines lie buried under the sand. Usually he will
not accept his own simplicities–Where do words
come from? What is the start of action? The harbour
is no place of options: it is like thinking into blotting
paper; in the natives’ language “spider” is the same
as “web”. Products and history start to fill the land.
The royal banners forward go. The music is corrugated,
a twisted metal framework rusting by a desert sun.
Observations are not observations–he skips a stone.
Caged in the captain’s saloon, the bird of Happen
strikes its head against a porthole, forward and back.

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