(for Jack Holmes)
It begins here, where the land tilts
westward and thin winter sun quilts
patches on the mountains. Where wind
strips yellow from whipped willows, eddies spin
gold-flecked and clear
in this moulting season of the alpine year.
Where I began it runs grey-green
and pelicaned. A folded stream
deep-creasing heat-bleached plains it flows
on easy in its years past cliffs that show
the course it cleaved
through ages in its long, slow shamble to the sea.
I soaked in stories there. Old, tall,
pipe-stem-punctuated tales drawled
along verandahs. But I find
that ambling sagas limp in print, their lines
and colours blur
in faded phrases and I choke on pygmy words.