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Bush block rehab

  • 14 July 2009

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 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).