Midwinter under the southern cross, and the wildflowers begin their long blooming season, wattle and red grevillea…
and the wild creatures come out to play…wattle birds, with nectar enough for all, even those who capture them only on film.
The “Black Dog” the old english Statesman called it,
And took a little more from whiskey than whiskey took from him,
But that was not so kind to Labradors,
And all such less than fair dogs.
Wolf I’d rather call it,
Top predator of souls,
Hounding the evolution of our minds
from love of self to other,
from inward loss to outward grace.
Unless, of course, we manage to evade this wolf
And, in that, rob our suffering of its fruits,
and so seek shelter from our life in inner mausoleums,
Among funerary figures
Of Guilt, and Sin, and Long Regrets,
And all the unforgiven things,
Concerning which we claim our own exemption from forgiveness
of faults which, in any other, we might readily forgive,
Even though we know we share with them a common weakness and fragility.
For ourselves, then,
Singular even in this,
The Sandstone Country
Like the first people, guardians of the earth,
we, too, are in the service of the land,
caring for the Angophora, for Bluegum and Turpentine,
Geebung and Scribbly Gum.
We learn to speak a rich vocabulary of secret names,
of Flannel flowers and Christmas Bush,
Boronia and Waratah, Hakea, Grevillea, Banksia and Tea Tree,
Darwinia and Dilwynnia, and the chant goes on.
We learn their songs
and the melodies of all the spirits of those places:
where Wianamatta shale blankets the sandstone plateau
and spills its clays down broken sandstone stairs
past algae-blackened, lichen-patched, wind-hollowed ledges,
which give abundant holds and food for:
Wax Flowers, Blandifordia Bells, Epacris Longiflora’s crimson tubes
and purple lilies flowering after rain.
As our times become more past than present,
As they do, eventually,
They become, also, more one.
How can we speak of the still centre
Of the ever turning wheel,
While talking our lives into the shapes of our wanting,
Through intonation, timbre, cadence
And all the voice’s eloquent vibrations,
Blindly gesturing at the flickering
Tied to the fleeting times and places of their uttering?
Fishermen, Calvinists, Talmudic scholars and French lawyers
Speak on and on with the self same tongues,
Endlessly conjuring paradoxes
From the inevitable becoming of what always was,
While not seeing that,
Halfway between Alpha and Omega,
Meaning never tarries.
Where there is love, There is God.
A lot of people speak occasionally of God,
Some talk of God a lot,
Some say she’s here,
And some say there,
And scarcely hesitate
Her very nature.
But I would wish to hear
The claim she makes herself, and tremble even to appear to want to draft God-governing laws.
Whose belly gripes for want of power,
(To make a better world, of course),
Omnipotence alone will fill.
Those whose bleeding guilt
Condemns them to an endless thirst for righteousness,
Will have none but a perfect, distant God to slake it.
While those whose flesh is burned by the coals of rage,
Spilled on them undeserved, by indifferent lovers,
Clamour for the strictest justice in their God;
And the vanity of wisdom
Leaves her devotees relishing the rolling cadence
Of their second hand omniscience.
The actual occupant of the high, celestial throne
Is singularly reticent.
She who is…is alpha and omega,
Overflowing with a mother’s tender love,
Slow to anger and ready to forgive,
Herself saying nothing much
About an omni-this or omni-that.
And one of us
Has figured in this world.
Immanent in service,
In brightness and in darker ways
The living shape of Hesed.
The cool breeze is only felt on brows that sweat
and colder spirits never feel its breath.
The knowing gaze is blind.
The doing and the wanting and the having of our lives,
But the light that can’t be seen is always shining on our striving.
It shone, of course, from Moses;
Descended from the mountain
And before him no doubt many others.
The companions tell of such a light,
In Inigo’s last days.
Little brother Schultz had quite a glow
As he neared his rest.
And Hauptmann Otto of St Francis,
Far from the battle-roar,
in his Trinity of blaze-bright lights,
like those before him,
Kept the door.
A rock engraving of a fish on one of the many flat areas of exposed rock on the sandstone plateau….
I am a person of the sandstone country,
first steps here,
last home already chosen in a place I know,
beneath the sandy clay here.
There have been many here before me,
so many years that the rise and fall of the land,
the worn floors of the caves,
the shelly black ground of the campfire shores,
and paths, made by the feet of thousands of witnesses,
tells me of their presence here still.
And the flowers still bloom
in the winter of the Southern Cross,
as it makes its nightly Pole vault,
keeping its ancient watch
over the sleeping plateaus and escarpments,
creeks and gorges,
and over the night creatures,
who only come alive
when the sun is sleeping.
My childhood ways
ran along the great stone tops
until they fell,
in tumbling blocks and slabs,
down ragged sandstone steps,
to the water’s edge.
Grass trees swirl,
in steep rivers of scrub.
And thin pockets of eucalyptus mulch
are taloned to the rock
by hard-skinned, small-flowered bonsai plants.
My heart is in the sandstone country
the land of the Eora people:
the place of their clans,
the Gadigal, Wanegal, Cammeraygal,
and all the other sandstone clans,
and we late comers,
who also, now, belong
to the sandstone land.