Mile after mile paddocks burned to mace,
umber, cinnamon, some middling tone
with a drab wash under. Gone out of fashion
in painting, turn of the century effect
learned from Australians lingers in landscape
which seems to be a land uplifted
high between two seas, in fact nowhere
as far up as a thousand feet; mainly settles
for two or three hundred. The seas press
either side, possibly salt has something to do
with the burning. They need rain badly,
if not too much of it; grasses' hold is only shallow.
Again, again, sheet and gully erosion patterns
are coming out from hiding. Much is a soil made over
from grim swamp, though still no shortage
of ground water most of the way however tops strive.
A disputed, a debatable land:
summer teatree smells like incense, or is it myrrh,
a bitter plant for bitter earths?
The bus grinds one final curve
tipping to suddenly a well to do green valley.
You couldn't call those paddocks or fields,
they're meadows. An old roan near the stream
pricks ears, then canters away. You feel
That should be a white horse and the Japanese
student across the aisle smiles knowingly.
At the station stables along the road
the hands aren't gambling, just hanging about.
Auto/Biographies. AUP 1992, p. 34