Driving home from the Gallery – a palimpsest
When art has left a dreamlike second sight,
silver birches lining the lake seem stilled
in their slow dance, to white scratches
scored across a metal sky, and the sun,
to daub the land’s hispid skin of dun,
painting peroxide tips on blonde cross-hatches
of winter grasses, gilding their lacework veil
as it bends down to meet us eye to eye.
Light tessellates fields in the purpling day,
blacks cows stippled on a yellow hill,
the road’s steel rails flaring like matches,
installations declaring in streaming neon
one last fling before the party’s done,
till gumtrees glow in patient bushland patches,
sidelined by the highway as suburbs fill,
their pale trunks present as bones in an X-ray.
Lucent ghosts, they make the scenery sway,
as though shot through, a film of silk
pierced by others’ dreams in fleeting snatches,
dreams where hills have names and grasses song
(Wiradjuri, Ngarigo, Yuin),
where sleeping country yet waits and watches,
her trees no mere decorative frill;
familiar dreams that gleam where the curtain frays.
There, threads unwound reveal a chambray,
cut by the asphalt treadmill,
our own sacred names now cold as ashes.
Still, behind glass we drive on,
missing last calls of the currawong,
though pliant blackbird artlessly catches
the tune and sings too in the evening chill,
we barely ken the falling shadow’s lai.