Life after gold

The fish that drank the ocean
The expanding bag is webbed around hope.

It is made of string and governments fall
through its fingers like stones.

The bag is a boat and a car and then a gull and then a spiral;
Earth.

The afterimage of settlements are forgotten when the fire is stamped


into black stick dirt and the black stick dirt is carried by hand to the
bag of our hopes and left there to fall again through the holes in the
mesh.

Holy day, feast day, birthday, battle.

It's always happening again,

Soon we will form a line and slip

through a gap in the rocks.

There is water there and vivid, plangent light

–Jesse Shipway

Cusco
Old women sleep on footpaths next to cauldrons of boiling corn,
the cobs with kernels as big and pale as teeth. They walk the hard
roads with bundles of cans or sticks on their backs like humps for
lorries, oblivious to the ubiquitous mountains. Children in hand
and lambs on frayed ropes, they offer themselves for photographs
with their poppy-mouthed skirts and disease-reddened cheeks.

The street walls and foundation stones, born of an age of earthquakes
and labyrinths, do not want for mortar or miracles; they have the
science of the circling stars and the conquistadors' gods on side.
In the church, Black Jesus, bathed in petals and candle smoke,
grows smoother and darker each year, and the Blessed Virgin stands
mountainous in a triangular dress, her spiked halo the Andean sun.

'Capitalism is misery and suffering,' laments the white paint on the
wall of an adobe house, outside which a family with oxen and plough
work the blood-soaked earth of the mountains that spewed up so much
resilient and spectacular rock. They are watched by dogs, black and
bald as pigs. Returning from the markets, busloads of tourists, clad like
cheer squads for Peru, take blurred photographs of the passing view.

The air congeals in our lungs. In a restaurant, a woman passes out after
vomiting her steak in a side-dish. Her blonde Canadian friend offers it
to the quiet waitress, asking for ketchup for her fries. Guinea pig is served
here as at the last supper re-painted for the local church half-a-millennium
ago, when Judas wore a brown face with a melancholy and knowing gaze.
Back at our quake-proof hotel, we are swallowed by our tomb-like room.

–Maria Takolander

Daytrip to Walhalla
uneasy in its valley of ghosts
this gold town lives on beyond bust
graves cut steep and deep through stone
some folk buried here standing up

this gold town lives on beyond bust
its bandstand caged by scaffold
some folk buried here standing up
parrots blood-bright at feeding bowls

its bandstand caged by scaffold
lyrebirds scratching in path-side moss
parrots blood-bright at feeding bowls
weekend cabins flush with gloss

lyrebirds scratching in path-side moss
trout darting from pool to ledge
weekend cabins flush with gloss
padlocked gates on a private bridge

trout darting from pool to ledge
this creek as clear as sulphuric
padlocked gates on a private bridge
footings blown from terraced rock

this creek as clear as sulphuric
acid seeping from long-tunnel mines
footings blown from terraced rock
gravity pressing as trees incline

acid seeping from long-tunnel mines
that fire station athwart the stream
gravity pressing as trees incline
braces angled from pier to beam

that fire station athwart the stream
graves cut steep and deep through stone
braces angled from pier to beam
uneasy in this valley of ghosts

–Rodney Williams

 


Jesse ShipwayJesse Shipway has a PhD in English and Cultural Studies from the University of Tasmania. He has published poems, essays, fiction and reviews in a number of publications. He lives with his family in Hobart and works as a researcher for the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.

 

Maria TakolanderMaria Takolander is Lecturer in Literary Studies/Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University.

 

Rodney WilliamsRodney Williams has had poems published in Overland, Blue Dog, Five Bells, page seventeen, The Paradise Anthology, Tasmanian Times, Poetry New Zealand and Antipodes. His haiku and tanka have appeared in a range of periodicals in Australia, America, New Zealand, Austria, Ireland and Canada.

Topic tags: Jesse Shipway, Maria Takolander, Rodney Williams, Cusco, Daytrip to Walhalla, fish, water

 

 

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