Posts

Whole

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                                        when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,                                         the earth, ever so slightly, fell                                         toward the apple as well.                                                                                                Ellen Bass                                         Everything that happens                                         will happen and none of us will be safe from it.                                         Pull up anchors. Sit close to the god of night.                                                                                                                                 Ellen Kort Days are getting warmer. Tractors with mowers, tractors with rakes, tractors with balers bounce along roads, through paddocks, capturing and rolling up the hay crop with a rhythmic thump that sounds through the valley like a heartbeat. The ground is suddenly rock-hard, and the cows carry th

Stone

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                       The stone woman gives birth in the middle of the night.                                                                                Attributed to Dongshan (Tung-shan)                       The mother of the Xia was Tushanshi, the Lady of Mount Tu.                        One day she turned herself to stone, and the stone split open                       to give birth to a child whose name was Revelation.                                                                                                                      Joan Sutherland Four hens go broody at the same time – mesmerised, they settle into their chosen spots and sit – two in the henhouse, one in the hayshed, one deep in a patch of tradescantia under the pear tree. We bring in some eggs from a different flock – araucanas (blue shells!), australorps, barnevelders – and J puts four under each hen. They bring out ten chickens between them – some eggs are infertile, some chicks don’t make it out of the s

Complex

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       A fierce wind blew the ship off course and set it drifting toward the land of the flesh-eating demons.          Entangling Vines , Case 39        Cultural complexes structure emotional experience and operate in the personal and collective psyche        in much the same way as individual complexes … [they] tend to be repetitive, autonomous,        resist consciousness and collect experience that confirms their historical point of view.         Thomas Singer        I have this nagging idea that at each major site something aberrant … happened and        a cultural liberation converted to a cultural complex.         Craig San Roque        [The etak navigational system is not a birds-eye view, but] occupies a “real point of view        on the real local space” and envisions everything else – stars, islands, reference objects –        only as it exists in relation to the viewer. Thus, “the star bearings of the etak island radiate out        from the navigator himself” and cannot be t

Days of the dead

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                                   After every war                                    someone has to clean up.                                    Things won’t                                    straighten themselves up, after all.                                    Someone has to push the rubble                                    to the side of the road,                                    so the corpse-filled wagons                                    can pass.                                    Someone has to get mired                                    in scum and ashes,                                    sofa springs,                                    splintered glass,                                    and bloody rags.                                    Someone has to drag in a girder                                    to prop up a wall.                                    Someone has to glaze a window,                                    rehang a door.                       

Where have you been?

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                                 The darkling way, the bird path, the open hand.                                                                            The Record of Dongshan In the first few days of the month, pallid cuckoos arrive, and fantailed cuckoos, and shining-bronze cuckoos, calling, calling all day, and at night after moonrise – See?See?See?See?See?See? See. Here. Their host birds rush to bring out a first brood from eggs laid before the cuckoos arrived, or to complete their nests if they themselves have only just returned from migration – satin flycatchers! Swallows make reconnaissance flights over dams, checking for insect life, and skirl in and out of the sheds and under eaves where they build their mud cups. The equinox is here and wild weather passes over the island as storms emerge from the Southern Ocean and track eastwards, to collide with tropical air that streams down off the Coral Sea; atmospheric rivers pour themselves out over the islands of Aotearoa New Zeal

Dry

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                         Sickness and medicine heal each other. The whole world is medicine. What am I?                           Blue Cliff Record , Case 87 I come from a place of creeks and rivers, and subtropical downpours that feed them. Here, even though rivers run out of the wet forest across the valley, this side is already in the rainshadow of ranges to the west and there’s not much running water – farms rely on dams, and pump through the summer to fill troughs and keep crops growing. When I first arrived I was always listening for water, always looking for its signs. The first few years I was here seemed parched to me. I remember lying awake, sick with longing for the smell of rain, for the sound of it on the roof. Feeling that if it came, softening the air and the ground, it would answer me as well, like a promise that my life too could mollify and flourish. With all my fingers and toes I prayed down the days of drought, counting; I prayed in the way I knew, for what I knew. 

Cold and heat

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                        A monk asked Dongshan, “When cold and heat come, how can we avoid them?”                         Dongshan said, “Why not go where there is no cold or heat?”                         The monk asked, “Where is the place without cold or heat?”                         Dongshan said, “When it is cold, the cold kills you. When it is hot, the heat kills you.”                                                                                                                         Blue Cliff Record , Case 43 Strange windy days and nights, like the equinox, out of time. Spattering of driven rain and the mountains shrouded in snowclouds again. Before daylight, in the lulls, currawongs call like a rattling of silver ingots; wattlebirds clear their throats and the falcon goes cackling away to hunt. Walking with the dog down by the river I hear the first pardalote – some of the migratory birds are back already. Patches of wattle come into bloom in the gullies. Again and again th