The bobtail is licking the algal delta
on the curve of the great rain water tank
in extreme heat. It is writing an autobiography
of evaporation and potentiate,
a memory of brumation that had it wake in winter
and champ its jaws for moisture, aware
that it was tasting its own tail
before falling back into a deepish sleep.
And now its blue tongue licks
a shape to match the chevron of vertical
estuary, downward astronomy of green,
frustrated by the limits of a dry vocabulary,
aware of onlookers as a world of predators
dictates where the past is rewritten
to make a new paradigm, this rejection
of anything but basic technology —
the capturing and harbouring of water,
the holding back a flood whose potency
lessens by the day — hot day after hot day —
heatwave — licking slow as a dangerous
wind rounds on the tank and its machinery,
and the writer makes bone of all it eviscerates.
Licking salt from the wound, telling it as it is,
trying to speak beyond the self, rehydrate.
John Kinsella's most recent poetry books include On the Outskirts (UQP, 2017) and False Claims of Colonial Thieves (with Charmaine Papertalk Green; Magabala, 2018). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, Western Australia.