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Taking measures

  • 25 October 2023
Stray thoughts are ideally as light as leaves drifting in the wind, which land without making a mark. The words that carry them are there one moment, and then they are gone leaving silence for reflection. This week, however, thoughts and words drop as heavily as the hearts of Indigenous Australians after the Referendum on the Voice and the families killed in Israel and Gaza. Prose doesn’t cut it. So here instead is a poem:  

Taking Measures


They’ve placed monitors through Royal Park

to gather data for its management:

tall silver poles on square grey concrete blocks

that bear a placard of reassurance,

like Daleks sheepish in disguise.


How will they record,

I wonder,

early morning joy

at sunlight pouring through a gap between two trees,

slicing a narrow path through the grass

to the hospital windows

and setting them alight;

sympathy with raging mynahs

marshalled in the breeding season;

awe at a black, black labrador

bounding from shadow into sunlight

through unmown grass;

seduction of candle bark

as it rustles against a snow white trunk?


Such light, unmanageable events

seed gratitude and wonder,

the otherworldly remedies

the Doctor brings.




Andrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street, and writer at Jesuit Social Services.