THE MERINO PRINCESS
Bless all gentle creatures like the lion
that comes up to you pad pad as you sit
under the one thorn tree in the savannah,
lays its big round head in your lap.
Bless the hills in the Lindis where they sheer
up like the blades of the Iron Age plough
Odysseus might have used to turn the sand
in his plan to avoid the blood muster,
stopping short of his baby son, the last time
we see him soft-mouthed.
Bless the survivors of the plane crash
as they float out into Antarctic waters dyed
glorious by the aurora australis, a soft touch
on the shoulder, that is all that is left.
Bless the chill that squeezes the life out of us.
Bless the furrow.
Bless the male, bless the female fruit,
the red bush, the flame, the pale cup,
the embroidered prayer rug, the serpent
in the abandoned bell. Bless the secret
green flower, the circlet, the paper pansies
on the float. Bless the Merino Princess.
Bless the stubble of her shaven head.
I recognise her, sweet receptacle, in a maroon
hand-knitted cap, leaning on a ionic column
in the old art gallery. We don’t speak
of the abortion but there is between us
the cautious kindness of the war wounded.
From Settler Dreaming, Wellington: Victoria UP, 2001
© Bernadette Hall