Step outside naked.
Step out barefoot on the silky soft sod of the grass.
Step out to bare both sole and soul,
to feel sun and breeze on the whispering skin.
But skin will not bear sunburn or goosebumps,
bindi-eye needles in toes,
bloodsucker mozzie bite itches,
nor the ant nest guardian sting.
The shock to the nerves is raw.
Into the man-built cave step back.
Step back, step back!
To save the thin
Feel Them There
On the tongue a caffeine residue dries.
Eyes close, sore from internet or TV screens,
ever hurry-stressed muscles tense,
while nose has numbed from traffic fumes
and ears have turned tone-deaf
from city noise and construction sites.
Mind in cluttered discord clangs—
never knows the wallaby’s courting sound,
the gentle tze, tze, tze,
nor how the fledgling Butcherbird learns his father’s song,
nor how to hear the hum of the horizon.
But let thoughts evaporate like dew,
unravel and open
the Pretty-Faced Wallabies loiter and linger by.
In camouflage, they lie and hide
in the tree shadows of bright sun.
Hear their quivering breath.
Feel them there.
On the old trails of Mebbin forest,
the mare looks where I look;
I look where she listens.
I feel the shifts of her attention.
We feel the land in its lay,
the roll of hills and dales
beneath the hard-packed, stony dry —
the tracks, such transient and faint scrapes across
an Earth as deep and vast as eons.
We smell the burnt bark of spent fire,
the shed skin of a python,
the toast and honey spray of tallowwood in bloom,
the ooze of eucalyptus leaves,
the damp moss clinging to creek rocks,
the fresh compost at the roots of a fig tree giant.
Like my mare, my gut vibrates,
an ektara, high strung.
Our guts together sing the chords,
of cicada drones and cricket trebbles,
the buzz of tiny, shiny, blue-black native bees,
the scuttle of goannas up trees
as we pass,
and thrum the drumbeats of her hooves,
high on the old log trails of Mebbin.
Grief hovers over my shoulder,
nudges sore at the back of my eyes.
chokes my throat, hollows my chest,
robs me of my stomach.
What fruit can I offer you, dear Earth?
Oh, you teacher who showed me how to love,
the fragrant flowers for your grave have died.
Sandlewood and myrrh have turned to ashes.
What candle will burn to light this darkness,
this blight through all the extinctions to come?
I think of striking a flame, and recall
it was the smoke that started the dying.
As they have for millions of years,
these trees tower.
Tears for all of this that so soon dies.
Softly they are dressed
in damp velvet mosses, liverworts,
festooned with stag-horn epiphytes,
studded with orange slivers of fungi.
Drunken fragrances commingle,
damp earth, leaf litter,
fallen fruit fermenting.
Between tall trunks, vines
interweave a steel-rope lace.
Between dark leaves
glint fragile lines of webs.
Tiny spiders like fire opals hang suspended,
wrap their insect prey in shrouds,
or suck their ichor.
“Woop, woop, woop, woo-ooeeyup, wheeyip!”
says the Whip Bird with that violent flap of his wings.
The Wompoo gargles his notes.
Trees open into colonnades
on either side of water running over rounded rocks.
Branches arch into vaults.
From above the canopy of back-lit lime leaves,
the sun’s rays lance the air at forty-five degrees,
to land on fern, crimson anemone fungus,
and lapis-lazuli dragonflies
mating in aerial ballet.
Tears fill my eyes,
for millions of years of evolution in demise,
for carbon dioxide, methane,
and nitrous oxide skies,
for the Celsius degrees as they rise,
tears for all of this that so soon dies.