Simon West, ‘Volatiles’


Strange for the season, but there it was,
a cold wind from the south. Dead or insect-
ravaged leaves were shaken off river gums
and whirled hard across a tract where the Goulburn
opened the bush like a furrow. It pulled me up,
as if a Sibyl’s scattered forecasts
were there for the grabbing.
Each had turned to a hovering moment,
a way back to reckon the day’s alloy
odd as a bowerbird’s hoard: bright trinket-words,
gut-wrenches, regrets. It was a flash of reprieve
that let you broach what otherwise
yielded to the need to carry on, and already,
like these volatiles, was spiralling down
to hit the surface with a shock. Suddenly
they too had been caught and were part of the current’s
impetus: just leaves again.

from  The Yellow Gum’s Conversion   by Simon West

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