Monday, December 14, 2009

Ode to a Profile of Grass


I have found you again,

on the hem of town, breathing your own

piece of air and sky, licking the sun, singing with the wind.

You stand ankle-high, each blade hard-pressed

into the sum of you,

still living your freedom.


You still spread from road to horizon,

a large green garment,

a little worn near the sleeves,

where new threads, alone or in clusters,

patch the best they can.


Earth has provided the cutting-floor for design,

the workplace for patterning,

the malleability for needling,

the timeplace for admiration.


You are seeded to earth-dependency, like us,

where the seeds of man ripen,

where his body heats into shape,

his bones harden for action,

his soul reaches for sky.


Your two seams run straight at your sides,

by taffeta-stiff houses,

their manicured lawns, manicured flowers,

all yawning with boredom.

The winds pleat and crease,

ruffle you into ecstasy, smooth you into quietude.


I came again to see the embroidery of your small flowers,

white for the moon, gold for the sun,

swaying their fragility amongst the dark-green confidence

of weeds, and to watch the small brown creatures

journeying your roots, all they know of home,

and to look up for butterflies, moths and birds,

seesawing their joy about and above you;

and to honour the birdsnests inside your pockets

and cuffs;

woven from your cloth,

and safe from hooves of horses and cattle.


I have come for you to renourish me,

to slice open the fruit of my imaginings,

dulled and pitted by city living.

The branches of your old trees ride the winds

wider, higher.

Ungroomed, unshaven, left to their own fancy,

they drift their pose in lazy height,

and droop in prayer, in praise of you,

spilling their buds and leaves in random thanks at your feet.


Your shrubs still crouch low, their brown fingers

stiff and knuckled.

Fistfuls of tussock still cling to your fabric.

I have come to lie on you,

to listen to your stories, hear the hustle of insects,

the rustle of birds, the whistle and chuckle of wind,

the rise and fall of their tunes,

to hear you growing, slowly, slowly.


And to smell your green flesh, its salty-sweetness,

like the salty-sweetness of our blood,

and smell the bitter friendliness from your ferns,

like old coal, resting in a shed of forgetfulness;

and smell ash and sweat from your native shrubs,

and stroke a rogue thread bending above,

arguing for more sun.


And to smell the Australian earth, its minerals and clay,

once water and fire that long ago haemorrhaged

in fierce unison to mould you.

And to reflect one day spadefuls may be mounded

above me, ironing me to anonymity,

my last covering blanket.

In vain we wish to keep you, your gown

wide and generous, swinging, beckoning us without guile

or anger, to love you, to heal with you.


Buildings, factories, creep closer. I cannot stop them.

We cannot stop them. You cannot withstand

man’s machines, his madness for money.

No-one can help. Not me, nor the people,

the insects, the birds, the flowers.

You are destined to die for the world, spooned up

and overwritten by concrete,

despaired for a while, then soon forgotten.

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