This is the season high country horses gather with their men
Sheep from upper slopes, barren, matagouri marred,
Where only wind and discarded wool remain
To be spun by later seasons.
In town the Ross Creek Reservoir mallards gather their clan,
Discussing mortality statistics for the year,
Water quality, the plight of their cousins:
Glistening irridescents, green.
This is the season Smith talks stags with his neighbour
Who buys a dozen by the crate, owns a twenty-two and some ammo
For a laugh, he says, for The Roar,
Never know what crosses your path.
Up in the frigid high country willows and poplars look scraggly, bald already,
But the hide’s as dense as ever
On the edge of the lake, geese, swans,
The paradise couple have settled for Life.
This is the season that opens a season.
Hunters prepare, daubed; armed to stalk in combat gear a favourite prey,
Painting landscapes in yarns of red and gold:
The blood of ruptured veins, celled chlorophyll drains.
While eternal hippies gather randomly, gatherers all,
To walk soft amongst long shadows and the last rays of sun on sun-warmed skin,
Their baskets for an apple or aggregate berry,
The hidden cluster in Autumn’s shade.
Written four years ago to the day, I find this poem still captures the essence of Autumn ‘down-under’ in a simple sort of way. I was living in Dunedin (Otago) at the time of writing, a place that perfectly emphasises lingering shadows and harsh high country frosts ….and the reality of writing to stop one’s fingers from freezing off!
Acknowledgement: the South Island high country for subject matter, and poet Robert Okaji for taking an interest in my blog and sharing his wonderful poem “What Edges Hold” http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/59487473/. That’s inspiration for today!