A short update – I haven’t forgotten NaPoWriMo but I sure dropped out of the race way too quickly this year. I did write a lengthy explanation post that topped out at 7,000 words (good heavens, if only the poetry came that easily for me). Upon reflection, though, I felt that the post was best left as a private journal entry rather than a public post. The thing is that, despite all my good intentions for creativity and productivity and churning out some sort of art that will make my mortal existence feel worthwhile – I am battling some big (metaphorical) demons in my life. Processing some deep trauma, transitioning to a new phase of life and leaving behind my comfort zone to find a new space, along with all the underlying challenges of being a mental illness sufferer – which is hard enough without it being overlaid by unnecessary interpersonal dramas.These things take up a remarkable amount of my energy to the extent that some days all I can manage is to make sure the kids and the cats are fed and safe. Anything more, like writing or art, is a bonus, but definitely not my first priority.
I’ve heard it told that in the old stone circles and since the dawn of consciousness
the crouching and lurching beasts left the bones of their enemies.
Their blood cries out from the soil.
And in that place ancient otherworldly highways intersect.
Hidden from mortal eyes they mark the endless trails of wandering spirits.
There are too many of them now.
They crowd and they jostle for position –
they wait for their chance to be set free.
I’ve heard it told that in
The Old Country –
where the air is thick with the restless souls of the unjustly departed –
flowing through the veins of the people,
the blood of our ancestors passed down,
is the second sight and the seer gift.
The druid wields the sickle and stands, arms wide,
welcoming the waking sun.
Ye’d be best off taking a different path.
The old woman in the kitchen liked to stand with hands on hips,
it made her feel strong and mighty; gave her the right to scold the young men as though they were
the sons she never had.
He felt small next to her, though they were the same height, but
there was something in the way the women looked at him:
A veiled fear, perhaps, hidden under their bonnets and how they all looked exactly alike
their uniform long skirts and high-shouldered blouses – no corsets, though – too impractical for these wild lands.
Stay off Brumby’s Track, ye hear?
Something terrible happened there, once.
Sideways glances and anxious silence. Guilt, perhaps?
Guilty consciences because they talked among themselves,
But what did he have to do with it? The sins of his fathers
As if he could’ve come in a pre-incarnate form
To warn old uncle Tommy that there are stains that can be washed off stone
but not washed off a heart.
He knows that they know.
He can’t tell the boss not to take the most direct route.
He’ll just close his eyes when they come to where it happened.
He awoke from a dream of bones.
A stone-wrought ossuary festooned with wonga-wonga vine and
pollen-heavy yellow bursts of wattle.
Where wallabies and wombats grazed on the sharp thin blades of what posed for grass.
And wasn’t it sad how death followed them out here, too,
to this upside-down world where swans were black and even the gentlest creatures were dangerous?
As though God Himself had abandoned them to become part of the red soil and feed the ghost gums
Their faces turned to home, pining for a land that forced them into exile
on stinking ships and into camps to labour for the glory of the King’s expanding empire.
Here the sun travelled in the northern half of the sky and the birds sang strange songs.
Where the trees did not change colour in the autumn.
Somehow he carried the memories of his ancestors,
and their strange second-sight that saw through time:
layered over the wild granite peaks were visions of spirits,
of beings far more ancient than even the venerable Old Country;
phantoms who wept over the desecrated land as the blood of their lost children mingled with the melting snow.
And here in this place, where pale skin was burned red by the burning sun.
A disembodied voice whispered to him from that other space,
As though the skulls in his fading dream were crying out across so vast a chasm
That they now became an echo on the morning breeze. Cries of injustice hung in the air over this place.
He knew he should never have come back here – to this town, to this farm
Where whispers told him that something out there waited for him,
To drag him into the mausoleum disguised as a bushman’s hut.