Taming Stone, the Pilbara
The poetry of earth is never dead. Keats
Broome’s tidal waltz of tropical waters ends abruptly
at solid tectonics, at pocked, folded mineral manifests
of subdued ochre, scoured salt scars and archaic rosacea.
The ironclad Pilbara is incised by human marks, spoils,
solar configurations and more commonly the clarity of a line.
A roiled surface built Zircon crystals over four billion years ago
then baked a roast granite crust that eventually accepted
the world’s oldest art. Longevity sours the ancient tongues.
Locusts swarm south of parched river systems life infiltrated,
mines gouge the emaciated dermis like ravenous bandicoots.
We count the intimate seasons on our fingers, the Yawuru below
used seven. A south-east wind furrows Wirralburu, dry as lizard scat.
Those who know the scale of this supersized country one-to-one,
one-on-one are sailing with just fragments of song – a catastrophe.
I’m told I need five simple knots to climb further, but know only one.
I take aim at our shadow wreathed in a halo, variations leaking
from how much clouds weigh. The weightless emptiness is shocked
by a vast straight line ahead demarcating the limit of advance.
Large square fields daubed in sullen pastels lacking the joi de vivre
of tulips’ gay geometry or the sunflower gold that floods Provence.
Farms sprout settlements and grids flowering a trickle of traffic.
A toddler picking blackberries on Cissbury Ring, Iron Age fort
and mine where antlers recovered flint, saw cars parked below
and asked if he could play with them with his woad hands.
My distance vision has improved as Earth recedes to a plaything.
Losing perspective, we skim an isolated city, its industrial fringe,
OCD orchards, cemetery teeth, beige walls cementing new developments.
Some mansion with toy palms spits a fountain, a ribbon of trees
winds the river past an oval and pylon. We’ve left the desert behind
as if our relationship with nature could be that straight forward.