gum days

They make Australia much more glamourous than it is
Dead or alive they are their own gallery of cubism
Perhaps more post modern from twisted approximations
Defying fires and a lack of rain they bloom and spread in the North,
Leaving the luminescent bark of Ghosts standing over

Keeping watch veritable blue pools, not sure how deep
With apricot jam smeared trunks
A children’s box of colours are all you need to replicate
And yet they still hold allure out there in batches, alone,
by water, in field or falling across the red dirt roads

It’s a land of primary colours
Where leaves don’t rot and oils are poisonous
No renewal, just dry dusty paths
Crackling underfoot explore if you dare
A ready made tinderbox in just a few months, weeks, days

Gnarled bodies lean near to empty shacks
Reminder of grandma days and old ways
An old fashioned kind of beauty, that’s what she holds
A children’s paint box and elemental lines
That’s what makes the gum so glam

Drawing a fine line between the black poles of yesterday
And green shoots that hide in hills, forests that thin
Beneath giant ferns, fanning and caressing and soothing
They cloak the floor of charcoal, hiding it from all but
The ants and snakes and lizards

The white ants have taken residence it seems since I last checked
Nothing supporting the side wall of the dunny
Everything had seen better times
Perhaps waiting for days yet to come
I’m still not game to enter, to wait, to touch

And in this landscape, missing the ocean, missing the salt breath of birth
Ever waiting for a metaphor of pertinence
Nothing comes
Except the white ant trail and the yellow
Striped ants with their matchstick heads

Stumbling in haste over the leaves that don’t rot
Monitored by magpies and crows and bell birds
Can’t rejuvenate dust without the moisture of
Dewey breathless kisses of demiurges
Who can’t even be bothered to weep over this place.

Text: © J. L. Nash, 2010
Image: © Gary Ayton

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