Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To My Children Coming After

            In the place that is my own place, whose earth
            I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing...
                                                                                     Wendell Berry

I walked in the bush today and heard
the sound of an old branch breaking
and falling to the ground. I saw the leaves
of the eucalyptus trees, so palely green,
fill the air with blue and chitter in the breeze
like lazy birds. I heard a child's shout of joy.

On the forest floor there was much that was dying.
Leaf-rot; a currawong's crumpled form dumped and stiff;
human rubbish. There was the rustling of the unseen
life that keeps to itself - the small shy things
rarely glimpsed. Lyrebird scratchings lined the track.
A million years of silence accompanied every step.

When I sat and rested against a tree and felt
the rising sap, I felt another thing too. My son,
who articulates his dream on the stage, lives vibrantly.
My great-nephew, newly born, who barely breathed for a week,
clutches my finger with force. These two carry my blood
forward. As they breathe, the trees breathe. And this breath

is the planet's lonely sighing. As I walked out of those trees
I knew myself steward of their hearth and that as long as I
had breath the fire of love was mine to tend. I wondered,
though, if the reckless driving rush of public life would allow
any other song to come from my lips than a child's lament.
And if, in the end, there would be any lights to turn out.

I found a pebble on the track. And I keep it safe for them.

8 October 2014

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