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Headland daydreaming

  • 30 September 2019


Selected poems



Headland daydreaming

These things said he ... Our friend Lazarus sleepeth;

but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. John 11:11


Dawn, and grey gums hang hushed over Abraham's

Bosom, the water ruddy in the creek: This place is new


to my son, who doesn't know that satin bowerbirds

pilfer the brush and has not heard the hardwood bridge


we cross. He's busy tracing each scribble in each gum,

and my hands are full of his hands, faintly heavy —


faintly delicate. A towering deciduous fig

hangs over us; its branches are neural pathways


thin at their tips the way memories thin in time. Heath begins

to flatten along the 'wreck walk' while bloodwoods submerge


beneath the calls of New Holland Honeyeaters

which flicker between combs of coastal banksia and a haze


of scrub she-oaks in brambles. Their greyness disorients,

and we find ourselves guided by the thrum of the ocean.


My boy doesn't speak the language of this land, sand gnaws

at his heels — we stop three times to pour it out, fine as ash.


I know this walk well, its contours and undulations —

recollections of push-bike rides of my youth. The story


of SS Merimbula who heaved herself against the rock ledge

at Whale Point. She survived, but laid herself to the mercy


of the waves and wash of time. Now, tea-tree leaves wound

legs with a salty dew as we emerge from the narrowing


path, our barren Via Dolorosa. Last night, the rock pools emptied

themselves into one another and now the boy is out clutching


at crabs. Gone, are pied oyster catchers, deckhands and travellers.

The last passenger-liner abandoned to the perpetual swallowing


of the tide. The air is seaweed and spray — I pluck periwinkles

from their solitude and throw them into the sunburnt ribs


of her bow. His mother is here too. She's holding a new-born,

milk white like the sands on our feet and cawing back to the black


cockatoos we passed earlier. This time I'll share:

here is where the ashes of their grandfather sleep.




On Visiting Cape St George Lighthouse; or, Standing between you and the rock face

For nothing was simply one thing.

The other Lighthouse was true too.

—Virginia Woolf


The moon holds itself bright and fat

                                                     in an August sky,