Here, where I was born, a fragile darkness consumed the wooded hills
and mountain tussocks clung to the edges of a rain-soaked world.
Rivers twisted in the landscape’s womb as trees
bore down with all their strength. Human shadows traversed
the blue-black silence, the unsleeping nights.
I followed their footprints
and burst into wheat fields, thick with copper-plated sunshine.
I heard the shrugging sighs of draught horses as they turned the sacred soil,
felt the hunger of slashing scythes. I saw bronzed daughters
gather the harvest, fill wine cups in the shade of trees awash with wild honey.
I hid when
conquerors and emperors, battle angry and triumphant, raised their swords
and polished shields in those same fields. They marched to the rhythm
of foreign tongues, history revealed in unfurled maps and raised flags.
Down at the harbour,
I saw ships unload at wharves where sailors staggered ashore
and fell into the arms of waiting whores. In tides of laughter
they discovered the points and pains of pleasure.
Between forgotten wars,
cities claimed the marshlands, homes lit up in wonderment,
shooting electricity around the world, unbearably bright, as the homeless
lost their voices in cardboard shelters and concrete car parks cleaved the fields.
the changing winds and hurried storms pounded. Rising seas swallowed the cities
and the earth grew indigo cold as the last orange of the sun was crushed.
I tucked my memories away in the mercy of darkness
here, where I was born.
Note: ‘as the last orange of the sun was crushed’ is from CK Stead’s poem “Pictures in a Gallery Undersea” (1959) which, in part, inspired this poem.