December 2017 – January 2018

Arts & Letters

The inland food bowl

By Les Murray
A poem

A gapped circle of colonies
each staring at the ocean
through a plaid of cars and imports.

Inland lies the still uncrowded
heartland once of drawl and steamboats
now half desert, half freshwater province.

There the Murray descends its seven thousand
feet off the Pilot, zigzags over the plains,
forest and furrow toward an outfall wash.

Narrow rivers link to this one, or slant north
where the dragon Ceratodus grunts in ivory mail
and streets are shaded in peppercorn and willow.

Having monstered tribesfolk,
dressed POWs in maroon,
it now flickers dials, or pipes experienced water

onto rice, onto cotton, on to Adelaide.
Western scrub rivers merge down the Darling
above flint blade

and reburied bones of the Warrior
as snow wind chills the saltbush
down from seven thousand feet.

Les Murray

Les Murray was an award-winning Australian poet with more than 30 published collections of work, including Taller When ProneThe Biplane HousesWaiting for the Past and The Best 100 Poems of Les Murray. His work has been translated into ten foreign languages.


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