Ducks flap on wetland grass,
pelicans overhead; white cumbersome bodies
in cold air splash onto the lake
like the slap of a net
on the surface of the water, a trap for crabs.
Clouds quickly fill the sky;
only floating reeds
and a slowly wading pelican mark the lake;
no reflection of gum trees,
or the hills on the other side
where the day is sinking. In the bush,
the pungent earth, vines creep on dry leaves,
empty branches finger to the last
of the winter sun. A dog sniffs the damp air,
the ground, the base of trunks.
Its ears prick to movement
carried by the wind, like a cormorant on a buoy,
its black wings spread to dry.
It feels steep climbing into the pine forest, the track furrowed
and loose, unstable. On the verge, the grass keeps ants,
lifeless bees, and layers of sediment that hold nothing of memory,
not even an old seabed. A snail crawls across a wooden path,
unlost, as a hedge turns into a badger shelter;
sparrows pick their way into the tangle, and as the sun looms,
the grey dissipating, the mollusc finds itself stranded.
A salt flat, a desiccation: the way a shell rolls in the wind,
empty. A stork flies over the Norway Spruce, entrusting itself,
over and over again; a raptor in dim light, against mountaintops,
dark cusps of rock, and then, into the woods, it leaves.
A stand of quietness. As I make my way back down,
clumps of moss amid bushes of Breckland thyme,
white ragwort on bark. It is as if it is the day after a funeral,
not knowing quite what to do. A run of snowmelt marks a creek,
maps it. On a fence post, a bird, calling, scratching,
long enough for me to notice its white belly, grey head;
this while I sit on a seat overlooking a dam. Later, in the annals,
a recovery – a name – lesser whitethroat, a warbler,
less because it is diminutive to its cousin. On the interior walls
of the onsite restaurant, all lays dead: the head of a boar,
its possibility gone, only alive in a painting of a mother and its boarlets,
tranquil, by water; deer antlers; and the face of a stuffed goat.
White curtains, fog, soft rain. And the old wood, the poverty
in this room. I sit back. All else, this morning, left in our apartment:
the fly, quiet, on the sill, the melted candle, plates drying on the rack.
A bowl of apples, untouched. The imitation cactus in a pot,
the rug slipped out of place; the table too wide for us to touch.
Standing Dead Trees
At the base of the bare walnut tree, snow piles
from ploughs at work in the carpark early in the day.
An old man sits on a tired blanket in a chair
outside the gate that leads to his home.
The water in the creek is slow, and gathers in pools.
It is enough to watch swallows, acrobatic
over red-brick chimneys, listen to the incessant antagonisms
of sparrows in a thorny bush. We meander,
pass two dead birds – black, wet, curled, undone.
The agony of snow: of the kittens you nurtured
under a torn wire fence last autumn,
only two remain: one ginger, the other gaunt.
Winter: a reticence, a time to unhurt. All the days
that are gone, an infolding, standing dead trees.
About the Artist
Ion Corcos has been published in Cordite, Meanjin, Australian Poetry Journal, Wild Court, and other journals. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling with his partner, Lisa. He is the author of A Spoon of Honey (Flutter Press, 2018). Ion’s website is www.ioncorcos.wordpress.com