How to start?
Everyday start by counting your blessings with an easeful defecation
and then the first bird heard or seen . . . or
I stop to watch the hillside of wattle bend towards the sun.
Winding down through the rainforest, the acrid scent
from the Flying Fox Camp slips in. Mostly Grey-headed
but quite a few Black Flying-foxes. I don’t mind the aromatics,
played tennis next to them, didn’t need smelling salts
to clear my head. There’s not a peep which is unusual.
The Nyambaga is in a state of calm, as if a teaspoon of oil . . .
the usual braiding absent, but small fish whip scatters
of surface convulsions. Everything will make sense
eventually and touch on the beautiful or interesting.
One Black Cormorant is joined by a Pied. Ignoring each other
they stand in devotion to the sun with no need for song,
wings out, archaic gods standing beside each other in opposite
directions with military precision, another flies in
Yarriabini, a sacred women’s mountain, looks on,
sits or stands appears impassive, they must have sagged
over time. Coloured beacons signify nothing to me.
The sea is delicately quilted, some kind of blue, so rich
only Royalty used to be permitted to wear that colour.
We can hear them at first, in the distance, a pair
of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos crossing upstream
Exciting to see seven Bar-tailed Godwits and a couple of Pied Oystercatchers.
A shadowy growl alerts us to the Mangrove Heron stooped still.
a grey look, nothing like the aqua fascinator worn by one
at Yardies’ Creek in Cape Range a week or so ago.
I ask the camera not to focus on the rocks.
Who are we? Aliens on the planet? What do the flying
dinosaurs make of us and our terraforming machinery?
Two otherworldly figures are in final preparations, dressed
like frogmen on a mission, the female agent wears
a suspicious, shiny belt. The pair slip into the hollow and vanish.
Horseshoe Casuarina like upside down candelabra
hold the dew-lights. Old men have turned up for casting,
the floats drift red, the blue surface slips.
Nothing needs sharpening not a tongue, an axe or image.
Brown Honeyeaters call across the run of Grey Mangroves
fruiting pastel-green, one of the loudest birds for their size.
Reminder: More than half of the world’s mangrove species (41) are found in Australia. Avicennia marina (grey mangrove) is the most common and widespread mangrove on the mainland. It is the only mangrove species able to withstand the cooler climates of southern Australia. The seed coat encloses two folded seed leaves. The seeds germinate while attached to the tree allowing for quick growth once the seed finds somewhere to settle down and live.
These are the only mangrove fruits eaten by Aborigines. To remove the toxins they are soaked in mangrove mud for up to a week until they turn black. The orange flowers produce a delicious honey and native bees are often found in hollow branches.
A pair of Smooth Flutemouth rolled and stretched by the ocean
scare the tiny tiddlers. The long tail filament is lined with sensory pores
to help negotiate a watery world. And I hear the sea for the first time,
such a constant in my life sometimes goes unnoticed, but the body feels it.
Reminder: ‘Sonic experience extends beyond the ears to include the body, and beyond the human body to include all molecules in a sonic pathway, which is multidirectional in space and, for me, in time.’ [i]
I had forgotten, but when very young, my favourite poem
was John Masefield’s Sea Fever:
‘I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.’
Returning up the hill, the sun has penetrated the camp
and the bats are carrying on as usual, squealing and shrieking.
We park underground, the supermarket has a view winding
up the Nyambaga. This is important because this Woolworths
is a popular destination in this small town without a Coles or Aldi.
Reminder: ‘Woolworths commanded 37.1% of the Australian grocery market in FY2022, with Coles grabbing a 27.9% share. Both companies’ German arch-rival Aldi has a 9.5% stake, while the Metcash Ltd (ASX: MTS)-supplied IGA chain held onto 6.9%. The remaining 18.6% came from other, smaller grocery retailers.’[ii]
I try to draw out Drew at the checkout. He claims to have no
hobbies or interests. I persist, run though chess, video games,
watching sport, playing sport, ornithology, surfing, Netflix . . .
He shakes his head each time, smiling, he bats me away.
The world as it is, vanishes, as each letter is scribbled on an A4 pad
most in keeping the protocols of poetry. An early Drongo crackles
on the forest margin, a Whipbird cracks on the creek line
and a Pied Butcherbird sings its sweet five note melody –
all stellar pulsations. If only I had perfect pitch.
A small moth white with the faintest spots fastens
to the underside of a window that sees the sea.
I get an apple from the fridge, a Kanzi, juicy Belgian.
Home is loved by Wyn and myself,
and stretches beyond these walls.
And what is surprising is that nothing, so far today,
has been inevitable. As always, each day is a discovery
And each night we have to say goodbye again.
Deep down we know what is inevitable and I think I can feel it,
but it wasn’t ‘mortal taste’ that ‘brought death into the world.’
[i] Emma McCormick-Goodhart, ‘Camille Norment’s Sonic Experience’ Frieze, 12 May, 2022.
[ii] Sebastian Bowen 2 May 2023 https://www.fool.com.au/