At evening the cockatoos tilt west-
Leaning and the eucalypts do not sigh
As that which burdened weightless once again
Departs to follow the sloping limbs of sky.
The bats are coming, colonies streaming
From the city to the Morton Bay Figs.
But that is later. First the whisper change
Or the change of day into a whisper.
Then the gold apocalypse, the fire
That does not burn. Somewhere on the water,
Perhaps afloat at Middle Head, a man
Paddles his craft close in to the rock face
Beneath the Russian guns, barren turrets,
And traces hypnotic patterns there with
Lift and drop of water lulling a sleep
As if none could be safer than in the swell
Encradled. The sea coaxes a meeting.
But the man knows the price of wanting land
Too much and deep water too little.
JF Englert is co-founder of the Sydney Writers Project – a new writing school – with fellow Sydney novelist Michael White. He is also the author of a series of novels about the adventures of an extraordinary dog named Randolph.
The Australian Literature Review