Miniscule under an incessant sun,
I walked across wide river valley plains.
Where waters twist and meander over
land where the weight of the sky sits over
all things great and small alike, where echoes
reside for long moments only, slayed by
at last, convinced was I
that sly nobody was residing in
boulders; nobody waited coiled to strike
from tall grass; nobody stalked after me;
nobody was over my shoulder but
in the oiled tussock slid the sibilant king
of all imported imagined serpents, sung
to life by the wind, knifing my ankles
with thistles as I thought to walk faster.
On the borders of day and night;
at the fence between street-light and dark;
at the edges of back blocks hamlets
barks the black archetype, grown of all
imagined wolf ghosts, padding and
panting out and in among the birch posts
tall, which stitch the grey wood white.
My younger self was innocent.
Guilty of rebellion,
sentenced for a while to delinquency.
That was years ago.
Today I opened a book
I hadn’t read in years.
There on the page was
the body of an insect,
like a pressed flower,
its wing intact like the
window of a cathedral,
a stain where life had ended
against the corresponding page.
The past slammed against
present. I shall show you
The back of my hand,
It threatened. I know it like
a scar, reminding me
of labours, vanities, glories,
this moment of cruelty now recalled,
and a self vanished forever.