I Would Say Something of Water
of its bearing on the land
how gullies grapple with its weight
tilt into its chastened light
pearling under the sky’s thumb ball
like some giant liquid metal distilled
from tors in frost-flattened paddocks
the world’s blue and silver filigree.
A vertical inventory in tarn or karst,
bound in dams and bores, leashed
by levees, moved by locks and sluicegates,
water turns time into proximity;
as if what matters is the interruption
to its flow, its checked coalescence.
Once admitted, water is a fifth column
from time’s icy reaches; incising
a lichen smile across granite,
it redacts the empty creek beds, rank billabongs,
granny-knot river bends so old
they have become little more than a subsidence,
the earth passing a hand over its face, as if waking up
and remembering a quarrel.
Its smallest part identical with its greatest
and therefore indivisible,
water vouchsafes no analogy,
requires no embellishment.
Water reminds me of the way
truth is figured in the world, the way truth
courses through its own gullies,
batters complacent shorelines,
rises to the gunwales of our craft.
So to the soldiers in the suburbs
to those who shared a smoke by pits
who opened files in basements
who crouched in minarets
who remembered where they had picnicked in pretty forests
and the best vantage points over the old town
who gave their names to new histories
incised on skin delicate as calligraphy on fans
I would say something of water.
Michael Thwaites Award, ACT Writers Centre, 2012