Sport 6: Autumn 1991
Half an hour down a straight road
from the prison farm, Boof Morgan sings Country
to a synthesiser, a drum machine
and a dozen desultory lovers of genre.
A man and a woman mime each number
while the barman lives by reflex
metres from where the boats tie up.
Thickset men with beards and cowboy hats
gather elsewhere under the bar TV.
They are no friends to this music
—wear its apparel with no concern
for a pickup draped with the national flag
—departed next day from this fine drizzle
across a map of blue skies and faithless love.
Cape Woolamai from Kilcunda:
the sky too subtle for a vulgar type
like John Martyn . . . Turner perhaps . . .
Sunlight Through A Bespattered Windscreen;
A Pearliness Below The Cliffs, July 26, 1990.
This last hour
the rocks disclosed by water where a boy cringed,
thirty years back, from the texture of anemones
hurled by an irate uncle
—an image of petty violence
beyond the powers of the nineteenth century?
New grass in the bridge's shadow slants
as it did in photographs; the railway
runs off its trestles deep into sand.
Mt Worth: abrupt end
of mountain ash;
a sky of torn edges,
splatter of gravel,
dust laid by downpour,
The road skirts old growth
above a new plantation;
west, from Bass to Warragul,
green planes decline to grey scrub;
numbered roads and ditches
drain the flatlands of Western Port.
Ascending Mt Cannibal in rain-heavy air
—a few moments between downpours
allowed for the summit.
page 107 North, Mt Towt,
and below this outlier
an aqueduct traces through foothills
under Mt Worth's mohawk
the valley opens up to power lines,
stud farms, the light industrial corridor.
Twigs snap underfoot
bolting a wallaby
from a clearing of mossy rock,
the faint register of leaves;
pink heath and yellow wattle
aglow in the ultramarine.
Midday shadows on a hillside:
terraced sheep tracks;
windbreaks deep below;
topiary masked by corrugated iron.
Scrub where the road spans a notch,
a watercourse dropping to the valley floor,
its strip development of petrol, beer and fast food.
North wind eddies on the Old Sale Rd,
a red glow, east, behind Mt Tanjil
as though morning were postponed,
and thunderheads, Blakean convulsions
over this calm landscape of dirt crossroads
safe with the assurance of NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH
that angels will not descend on Shady Creek.
A barroom voice
recites something in German
about the Lorelei, then
Inchcape Rock . . . The Good Ship Venus . . .
and in reply hears the tale
of a man who bought a goat
instead of a refrigerator.
Outside, a gale makes it hard to enter channels
across the Port's and Kate Kearney's shallows;
some stand off for hours.
Inland, uprooted trees
sawn into moveable lengths
hedge the road; the wind,
a lunatic, grabs at the steering wheel.
the nob of Ben Cruachan, sharper from the west,
blighted Mt Hump emergent for some distance.
Above Cheyne's Bridge the road swings up Hickey Creek
towards a gap; bared rock diagonal
hard under McMillan's Lookout.
A dirt track
skips a cutting, follows a shoulder to the point of the ridge
a few steps from the road; lichen on half-buried stone,
purple flowers in clefts.
Campfire ash in a small clearing,
Big Flat below, where the Macalister erodes edges of pasture;
cattle on the open ground, sheep dotted in rising scrub.
At Licola the settlement is boxed in for two more months,
its general store closed mid-week.
No sound or movement here, save a chain-saw
somewhere across the oval.