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Furze fires cast a pall over the coast


Mute swans of Lough Ine

In the oxygen blue of the saltwater lough
a pair of swans snag glare from a deep
world as intense as the clear-felled once was,
intense as preservation and famine walls
or the creek whose rapids feed tidal salt
an inland sea concentrated in basin and trough;
redmouth gobies and sunstars and hydroids
indivisible declared loudly on signs to fathom
reflection, those seahares, dogwhelks and fifteen-
spined sticklebacks, porcelain crabs breaking
the glaze of information, how we read pristine
anomalies as swans paddle over verticals
unafraid of what might come from below,
heads dipping into the looking glass.


Furze fires cast a pall over the coast

You can see them cover the red sandstone range
and spread over bogs from a vantage point high
on Clear Island, furze fires that heat winter
to spite itself. And leaving the island you catch
an old man igniting a hedgerow, fire sucking light
and throwing its carpet of smoke — no yellow
flowers, just flame against itself. Irish breaks
into English and vice versa, and clapped-out cars
rise up from the southern harbour. Gulls balance
precarious rocks. Cows out on the mainland
taste drab, smoky air and wish for their sheds,
dark and suffocating, smelling of themselves
and the rot of feed and stale light. Some cows
caught furze flowers through winter bars,
managing to put on a show, faint births,
though now furze blooms in hay-feverish glory
and are cut down in their prime on island
and mainland alike, the Atlantic absorbing
what it can, definition of blurred land.


John KinsellaJohn Kinsella's most recent volume of poetry is The Vision of Error: A Sextet of Activist Poems. He is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University.


Topic tags: John Kinsella, poetry



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