Drought essay: A levitation of land
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Haze went from smoke-blue to beige
gradually, after midday.
The Inland was passing over
high up, and between the trees.
The north hills and the south hills
lost focus and faded away.
As the Inland was passing over
lungless flies quizzing road kill
got clogged with aerial plaster.
Familiar roads ended in vertical
paddocks unfenced in abstraction.
The sun was back to animating clay.
The whole ploughed fertile crescent
inside the ranges’ long bow
offered up billion-tonne cargo
compound of hoofprints and debt,
stark street vistas, diesel and sweat.
This finest skim of drought particles
formed a lens, fuzzy with grind,
a shield the length of Northern Europe
and had the lift of a wing
which traffic of thermals kept amassing
over the mountains. Grist the shade
of kitchen blinds sprinkled every scene.
A dustbowl inverted in the sky
shared the coast out in bush-airfield sizes.
A surfer from the hundred acre sea
landed on the beach’s narrow squeak
and re-made his home town out of pastry.
A sense of brown snake in the air
and dogs whiffed, scanning their nosepaper.
Teenagers in the tan foreshortening
regained, for moments, their child voices,
and in double image, Vanuatu to New Zealand
an echo-Australia gathered out on the ocean
having once more scattered itself from its urn.
Les Murray is an award-winning Australian poet with more than 30 published collections of work, including Taller When Prone and The Biplane Houses. His work has been translated into ten foreign languages.