‘Unprepared to Find’ – Stinson series – 28th February 1937

There’s a gap in the trees.  Long splinters 
of red gum point to heaven.  Below, a wing 

torn off from the charred skeleton 
of pipes that lie in the tangle of rainforest, 

buckled propeller blades are screamed back
and the dead still slumped in their seats.  I hold a vine, 

and stand trying to keep the thing from me. Two days 
searching, and now, unprepared to find it,  

through the unclean air, their voices 
call again,  shake me out of my horror and cold skin.

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moment, for a currawong

 

too heavy for air,
between cathedral roots 
of a black booyong, wing bent back,
floating in leaves, it waits
to sink into earth

its expression
noble,
as the way it stood, in suit jacket – the piercing 
yellow eye, closed, offering
itself to the forest workers 
who will massage
everything back to soil 

I’m still working on the Stinson series of poems.  It has been such an interesting exercise, working with historical facts and biographical details from Bernard O’Rielley.  I’ve been struggling to get Bernard near the plane, so I’ve spent some time on rainforest pieces relating to the area of Lamington National Park, where the stinson crashed.

Calamus muelleri (lawyer vine)

How soon did you arrive 
after this giant beech fell
and pulled down a hole 
in the ceiling?  

You scramble for light 
on a rotting forest floor.  From one hundred 
meters you stretch tendrils to climb 
into the canopy with your backward facing
thorns.  Why do you exist lawyer 
vine?  What purpose? Look, my throat 

is jagged sideways, your necklace of needle hooks
rip at my skin, but even as I step back and perform 
a delicate pincer removal, you curl another 
round my back and down my arm, grab my 
pant leg.  I bend down to pick you off 
and again you are holding my hat.  

 

 

Stinson series – Sunday 28th February, 1937 (Day 9)

ix

Hands spin the map
to turn the ridge north.  An identical
twin of the last
tangled north
running ridge. It is like 

a fog; no sun, no break
in trees, no view, I climb a fig.  It is
one o’clock, five hours dropping
into gorges, lantana climb 
and lawyer vine across the top, five hours
since I saw that one burnt tree.  

‘Coo-eee’  A human voice 
out here?  

Must be another local
with the same idea
to scratch around
for an airplane.  Better not
respond, confuse the poor 
cocky.  He is two tangled 
north running ridges to the west.  
Where I’m going anyway.  Company 
will be nice.

 

‘Tell me your day’

I take a break from the Stinson series (which I will return to because I’m enjoying the research and the attempt to make it into poetry) to write something still Stinson related.  Today I took my family up to O’Reilly’s for some short walks.  It is a magical place well worth the visit and explore.

I write this in response to a poem titled ‘Tell me your day’.  The first two lines have haunted me the last two weeks.  The poem is by JDub and can be found here:  ‘Tell me your day’ 

 

A currawong broke  
my heart from thin
branches.  Cur-loo.  I can’t resist
a suit so sharp.  The bush

warbler made me
walk closer to the toilet
block.  It was a long drop
for the hawk, who caught

a sunset field
mouse and lifted
my eyes to pray
thanks for all

the feathers.