The whipper-snipper, 5 April

For Mark

1 [part 2 an essai on the hand follows]

On loan, a heavy-duty machine with a harness,
spent a while yanking the starter eventually noise
erupts and the machine takes control, driving me
into the undergrowth of Blady Grass and Paspalum
hiding among the Dianella and Lantana, beneath
Banksias, Westringias and Grevilleas. Hot, sweaty
toil inside the foul stink of its petrol breath
– the first time this garden has ever been subject
to such violence. My hands are my tools to pull
a weed or around the haft of the mattock to bite,
so that birdsong fills the ears and spiders are seen.

Reliable dependence on the reliability of the body
hurdling entanglements of roots, ducking branches,
exhaustive leisure, chatting to the improvising mesh,
fleeting seasons growing and dying. The skeleton
too tiny to mediate habitat, has become a bird’s perch.

Gardens should be biodiversity hotspots, each a busy
refuge from the frantic techno-splintered world.
Nature lives in the present – we live in the past or some
future-oriented mirage of extroverted entertainments
heroic, superhuman adventures – or bleak dystopias
of darkness ground to dust – help me out here –
the importance of nature, important to keep in mind
a mental ledger of vanishings, a greater depth of field.
A running commentary flexes in the breeze, ferns’ fractals
charm, a sense of responsibility waits in the shadows.

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