AN EXTRACT FROM
THE GUM FOREST
After the last gapped wire on a post,
homecoming for me, to enter the gum forest.
This old slow battlefield: parings of armour,
cracked collars, elbows, scattered on the ground.
New trees step out of old: lemon and ochre
splitting out of grey everywhere, in the gum forest.
In there for miles, shade track and ironbark slope,
depth casually beginning all around, at a little distance.
Sky sifting, and always a hint of smoke in the light;
you can never reach the heart of the gum forest.
In here is like a great yacht harbour, charmed to leaves,
innumerable tackle, poles wrapped in spattered sail,
or an unknown army in reserve for centuries.
Flooded-gums on creek ground, each tall because of
Now a blackbutt in bloom is showering with bees
but warm blood sleeps in the middle of the day.
The witching hour is noon in the gum forest.
Foliage builds like a layering splash: ground water
drily upheld in edge-on, wax-rolled, gall-puckered
leaves upon leaves. The shoal life of parrots up there.