Pulped promises and draining tidal waters

the boardwalk
Tamar Island Wetlands Reserve, 2007


a bleak waterway
when I first crossed to the island
many years ago

weeds and silt choked the estuary

water birds flew on
and barely skimmed the surface

broken reeds
struggled for footing in remnant pasture

a solitary bird-hide
with cut-out walls to scan the empty sky —
was this where visionaries came to dream?

low tide exposed stark new timbers —
one and a half kilometres reaching out
over old levee banks and rivulets —
indenta walkway still alien
indentto its landscape



this year I return
indentstepping with care
over stained and seasoned boards —
indentwire-covered in parts
against the treachery of slime and frost

now I enter a shifting world of reeds
that almost form an arch above my head —
indentI hear tiny birds
chatter and scold as they dart in and out
indentsetting the seed-heads swinging

look into the depths
indentand here is chaos —
vertical/diagonal/horizontal shafts
of reeds — Phragmites australis
indentlike a festival of box kites



on the island
traces of European settlement
are folded in time
indentlike the leaning plough
you find embalmed within an oak

move on to the far side and here
throughout its length
the main channel of the Tamar
ebbs and flows in tidal sweeps

near its mouth
indentthe wood-chip mills with gaping jaws
indentstrip chew and spit out forests —
while I walk
protestors gather in city parks
to march with banners —
indentpromises are processed — pulped

(iv )

as the tidal waters drain
indentall is witch-talk ooze and suck
indentwhen there is a lull in the wind —
a break from endless gossip with the reeds —
indentevery sound is liquid

now the water birds swoop low to feed —
indentchestnut teal sieve the shallows
like teams of weekend lawn mowers bent to the task —
indenta white-faced heron repeats its image in reflected sky
while beneath the bridge
indenta black swan spins against the current
in a taffeta flare

Gillian TelfordGillian Telford writes from her Pearl Beach (NSW) home. Her poems have been published in the journals such as Five Bells, Blue Dog and Poetrix, and anthologies including The Honey Fills the Cone, Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology, 2006. She is working on her first manuscript.


Topic tags: Gillian Telford's poem The Boardwalk, about Tamar Island Wetlands Reserve, 2007



submit a comment

Similar Articles

Australians shaped by the spirit of place

  • Alexandra Coghlan
  • 16 January 2009

Landscape has long been acknowledged as central to Australian colonial history. In contrast to the harsh conditions endured by settlers in Sydney Cove, convicts in Tasmania experienced a veritable Eden. (March 2008)


Confessions of a rogue library book buyer

  • Malcolm King
  • 13 January 2009

Even though the university was now in phase seven of its Orwellian audit on 'where money was coming from and where it was going', they still had not yet twigged that there was a cell of book buying anarchists wearing sensible shoes in their midst. (February 2008)



Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up