THE SOUND OF THE ANTHROPOCENE
Black Point, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
I’ve driven from a place of edges
and endings to this cold winter shore
where the line slicing water from sky
is nothing but softness. A bird blacks
a hole in the grey and the sea is so still
only gull legs and wing flap ripple the glass.
I leave footprints in the sand, mistakes the sea
will erase with no uncertainty, reminding me,
at last and again, why I’m in love with the wild.
People, not so much. The houses jostle,
this beach the thin partition between worlds,
the deep ocean currents and the tireless germination
of human things. Where is my gracious curiosity?
I dig for the earth’s elegant fierceness, this poem
a fossil pressed within the stratigraphy of my notebook.
A black and white dog escorts me to the Point.
Hers not mine. A flock of egrets gaggle, some
flying out over the water, clapping wings above
low bellies. The dog brings me a sea rock, drops
it at my feet with a clatter of tooth on stone.
The sand is a welter of toe-prints, a crackly mosaic
of shell. Each step gives such a satisfying crunch.
Even though. Even though it is the sound
of the earth cracking beneath my weight.
WHAT YOU MISSED THE DAY YOU SKIPPED ANCIENT GREEK FOR THAT GUY WHO SAID IT WAS A DEAD LANGUAGE
After Brad Aaron Modlin
Professor Usher explained that literary translation is not an exact science
and the ancients read with their hearts and guts not their eyes – just like us.
She used Homer to show how life is so unfair that even the gods cheat
and getting on the bad side of a goddess can really fuck you up, long term.
She read aloud some fragments of Sappho, demonstrating
how nothing we write will ever totally disappear, so be careful online.
Then she handed out a worksheet and gave us five minutes to translate
Heraclitus’ quip about formal education not teaching a man to think.
The Professor took questions about football being a kind of pagan ritual
and whether or not reading Plato could help with fear of parallel parking.
This sparked a discussion on whether ancient Athenians would consider
Married at First Sight to be comedy or tragedy. It was undecided.
She assigned us 2,000 words exploring the irascibility of the three Fates
as an expression of fear of menopausal women, then finally she sketched
Ptolemy’s chart of the planets on the blackboard, rings circling the Earth,
warning that feeling yourself to be at the core of the cosmos is just a stage,
and when you finally discover that everything you believe is a huge mistake,
life does go on, even after the centre of the universe has shifted under your feet.
Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet, writer and arts reviewer. Awarded the 2019 Australian Poetry and Nature, Art & Habitat Residency Eco-Poetry Fellowship, she is published widely and the author of four collections of poetry, including The Flaw in the Pattern (UWA Publishing, 2018). Her debut novel The Application of Pressure will be published by Affirm Press (2020).