Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday Poem: "Exiles from the Dreamtime"

Tell me of the Dreamtime, Grandfather,
the young boy said.
Fill me with your memories
so you may live on in me.
Show me the past
so I might see the future.

There, under the cold light of the stars,
the fire of youth smouldered in the old man’s eyes
as they travelled the pathway of his tongue
and heard the unheard voices.

It was a time of wonders, he said,
but our currency was change.
We thought we could buy new miracles,
but we sold ourselves short.

The sea was lover to the land.
It knew where to kiss
and where to bite.
The seed of the sea was awash in our veins,
drawing us into it, on it, near it
and we were rewarded
by its majesty and generosity.
From some deep heart the malachite sculptures came,
refined by reef and wind,
until they exploded with white intensity
upon the beaches of the world,
some the cool, white velvet of crushed stars,
some warm and tawny like sleeping lions
and some black and hot with iron.
And in its depths we heard
the songs of our siblings,
but we had lost the lyric language.
Noble cetaceans whose forgiveness never waned
even as the last giant tail fluke
waved goodbye as it sank
into the cauldron of poison we had created.

Forests were the libraries of the land.
In life they charted the planet’s progress
and in death they froze fragments of history.
Like great ideas they affected our lives
and their shelves held the catalogues of Nature.
There were the cathedral canopies of the tropics
where soft light fell like a blessing
on a steamy palette of greens.
There were the eucalypts of the drier climates
which grew lean and tough, seeking the groundwater
like a seaside resort seeks the summer.
Or the mountain pines,
spectral in the moonlit snow,
alive with the red eyes of wolves
and the wind murmuring the secrets of the valleys.

But, like a petulant child,
we pulled the thread that unravelled the tapestry.
One day we awoke
to a desert of silence.

The ants we had taken for granted
were noticeably absent.
The bees, bereaved of flowers,
had nothing to live for.
The birds, robbed of progeny and homes,
plummeted from the sky,
made gangrenous by our excreta.
We had made the Sun an enemy
and it boiled the sea in its rage.

Tears extinguished the youthful fire
as the old man said, Forgive us, Grandson,
we squandered your inheritance
like callow, hedonistic youths
then fled the island
when the volcano erupted.
Surveying the barren landscape of their exile,
he said, It is fitting that
we banished ourselves to the Red Planet
because the blood of the Dreamtime
is on our hands.

Photo Credit: www.edgee.com

I offer my own sort of companion piece to last week's poem by W.S. Merwin just because I'm an old greenie hippie at heart, folks. I wrote this poem way back in 1988 and, sadly, things have probably only got worst since then. Let's be more careful with our precious planet. What say you?

Photo Credit: http://operationfailwhale.blogspot.co.nz

Photo Credit: Wolf Wallpapers

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this piece, Andrew. I wonder if the grandchild, in hearing this story, is now holding the great-grandchild - i.e. playing Candy Crush on the e-tablet - that will grow to destroy the destroyers. I believe this poem gives the AI overlord a glimmer (I say glimmer, because AI is busy with stock reports and marketing blogs) of our humanity, our love of beauty and song - like an aboriginal dance. This is who we are. These were our concerns. We were flawed. We were careless and passionate - the bites and the kisses - and I know you may never understand this song. Yet I sing regardless.