Cutting the Rushes

Cutting the Rushes

To replay those southern evenings

when the sun slumped at Yarranabbe

and the bay felt like ours for the taking,

it pays to have a steady hand at the drive deck

and an eye that swims with spool and gear --

knowing when to pause,

where to mark for the cut.

Is this memoryswamp through which we wind

the same that once bore reed and rush,

and where to gather stems for thatch

          we came

(by boat with our burden and pox)

as roofers of a new build world --

pinching and pleating the foreshore hem

as the frontier skittered inland?

We kissed beneath the eaves at Darling Point

in the fading light of a summer

we'd stretched to its limits;

the lullaby sway of yachts on the bay

corralled our thoughts,

kept them safely moored in the evening swell.

Yet as far from our dreaming as we are now

from that harboured moment

were those rushcutter fleets that

rode the same tide,

the bloody lash of halyard on mast --

terror tremors of nullius earth.

History courses through nitrate stock

like sparks in the stubble of memory;

a hair in the gate and a broken spell --

we float between worlds

in the sump and sedge of a land

grown as tall as a poppy.

December 2014