I know you are there
the eyes of the hide
you are walking
out of sight
and diminished octaves
the wind is singing
and the tune is beyond me
the path from your nest
to the water forms
a twelve-tone sequence
only you follow
the splayed feet going
there and there
untuning the far thud
of rush hour to natural static
this is not music
this is what
will have been music
and it does not come
one call away
who do not call
subtlest most hidden
long neck scything
what escapes you
by reedbed isthmus or lake
the Brigid’s cross
of your nest of reeds showing
a clutch of deep olive
where have I not looked for you
for the moment
your camouflaged eye
listened for you
spirit of the haunted milk bottle
sunk in the centre
of your slow-
and I clip shut the eyes
of the hide
stand in the dark
and is this not blindness?
this is not
blindness I am
the last image
on the retina
of a closed eye
there is nothing
to hear and this
For The Night Parrot
Flyover, sleepover timezones, daylight
saved and squandered. A Norfolk pine at dusk
screaming with hundreds of rainbow lorikeets.
When landfall comes it comes on a thermal
of rain, warm rain. Zygodactylous,
I walk forwards and backwards at once,
line my casuarina, my creaking hollow,
with gum-leaves and enter tail-first.
I drink your health in mangrove and deadwood pollen
and strip the bark to cheeky, fluttering tongues.
Wattle and eucalypt leaves are also acceptable.
I will preen as I feed you, smoothing your feathers,
their lattice-work of barbules and hooks cresting
to flares of sulphurous delight and alarm.
Out of the seeds we blossom and fledge, an irruption,
the pine dispersing to fill the whole morning sky.
I have begun to speak with the voice of a bird.
Whose voice, warbling, booming, falsetto,
will I imitate if not my own? I perch
on my own shoulder and whisper into my ear.
‘Hey there!’ chatters my particular friend
the gang-gang but having got my attention
deems all further need for speech at an end;
stonewalls my polite inquiries, preferring
to dip, bob and stare straight ahead.
The more I display the more stays hidden,
visible only in UV, my coverts an open
secret by now. Which leaves the night parrot:
to be spoken of in the is/was tense, this artist’s
impression done from an artist’s impression.
Its oneway tunnels have penetrated
all the way into the earth and not come back:
a roadside carcass, 1990, first
in a hundred years and the last. One partial
ps, 2006, found headless:
Orpheus of the night parrot’s vanishing
act, the head rolling and whistling its way
to a halt in a dry river-bed; the Maenads
cheated of their triumph, keening and comfort-
less among the spinifex ever since.
My far-flung route held neither silk nor spice.
Beyond the reach of turnkeys, trackers, spies,
I swapped my chains for the jail of infinite space.
I gave my natives a blanket and bottle apiece.
Devils scream me to sleep. I sleep in peace.