Taming Stone, the Pilbara

Taming Stone, the Pilbara

The poetry of earth is never dead.  Keats

Pilbara2 Pilbara1

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.

Pilbara4 Pilbara3

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.

Pilbara6 Pilbara5

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.

Pilbara8 Pilbara7

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.

Pilbara10 Pilbara9

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.

Pilbara12 Pilbara11

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.

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