Mount Ainslie Drain

A mud-and-nothing place at first, a scar
across the mountain face, but then the clay
healed over slowly. Water algaed. Ice
grew greener every winter, banks turned grey
with tussock and last year’s paspalum. Reeds
crept back from somewhere. Noises next; the slow green baritone of frogs; cicadas hard
staccato in the summer; rustlings screened
by reeds grown bullrushed now. Last summer teal
moved in, two pair I think, this March a team
of dotterills – St Kilda coloured. Yesterday

a touch of stilted dignity – a crane
that stalked off, spread and lifted like a grey
slow-moving smudge across the rinsed-out sky.
I passed by quietly today. It stayed
and watched me walk to work. Last year the teal
and now the dotterills and crane. It makes
me wonder what next year will bring. This drain
runs colour through July and sets a place
aside to leave my mind in for a time.
I need it when I’m marching off to face
another fan-and-fertilizer day.

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