From Trial Hill — Barossa

Distance creeps up closer with the years.
Irreverent sounds
of Sunday-thunder interrupting bells
are muted now
and mutter at the morning. Only here
my hands feel clearly still and touchings tell —

of needle-cushioned ground where churchyard pines
have turpentined the wind —
of egg-shell husks
on wizened pepper-berries, tissue thin —
the rasping touch of fretting, flaking crusts
of paint on scraping gates that let me in
through walls that seem to grow in valleys sown
with bluestone seeds. Warm-mortared walls that store
the summers of their growing in behind
the surfaces of hessian-textured stones.

And hand-remembered valley-patterns lie
within the crystal skins
of grapes in rain —
in burrs of horehound seeds — or in the thin
and crumpled trumpets of Salvation ]ane,
like silk in fingers — in the rust of rims
where spring-cart wheels decay near gates — in round
and time-stained grains where hand-smoothed, hausfraued pews
stand dustless, hushed and warmed in patches by
arched sunshafts letting diamond-patterns down.

Although familiar scenes seem further and
some sounds have drained
away from concords that the morning brings,
this land remains
within the span of recognising hands.
We never seem to lose the feel of things.

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