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Bush block rehab

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Rehabilitation is its own profanity
The randomness of planting wattles on the hill
above the house has its own profanity — the shaping
of guesswork, or to plant where you stop thinking,
or to toss a stone up and follow its arc to plant
where it lands, nudging aside and then ringing
a sapling with that stone and others around.

Rehabilitation is its own profanity — who am I kidding?
Almost easier to take a place long ceased to be pristine
and make it better. The delusion of healing. It passes
a life, it pushes prime concerns to the back of the mind.
I've only seen one or two small birds while out and about
today — planting, nurturing. I lay plans for future

restoration, talk about the long-term. Shadows are thinner
and longer and that stone emits a changed, unsettling light.

This will not be a model farm
There is a new set of shelf fungus
on the overarching branch of York gum
by the lower rainwater tank — small tank
that once watered stock which are no longer
grazing the block — all that walks here now,
come and goes by other rules, even the lost
dog that was heard barking and left a shit
as it passed by. I won't introduce
new names but search out the old.
That's not appropriation — it's respect
and learning. Knowledge is the tree
replanted in the ashen bed of an old stump,
a partial mythology; I'd like to call it
'a Greek theatre', say Epidavros
I visited as a young man,
but it doesn't work — verse
doesn't make model farms,
even when ground-out in perfect
meter, the reader drained, waiting
for substitution. I planted that sapling
in ash-soil with acoustics of the lost
tree resounding in ways we can't be sure of,
and in the now wet and malleable earth,
hidden rocks emerge easily and lay claim
to surface. See, this is neither model farm
nor churchyard, though a wounded
spot of ground is set aside for olives.

John KinsellaJohn Kinsella's most recent volume of poetry is The Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography (UQP, 2008; WW Norton, 2008). He is the editor of The Penguin Book of Australian Poetry (Penguin, 2009).

Topic tags: john kinsella, Rehabilitation is its own profanity, This will not be a model farm



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Existing comments

John, it's always great to read your latest offerings. I enjoyed both of these poems, but - in particular - "Rehabilitation is its own profanity". The "stone-throw" method has its own optimism & a certain rightness. Best of luck with the long-term.

Thom Sullivan | 14 July 2009  

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