concluding with two lines by Les Murray
I see now that I’ve used the word too loosely,
been prematurely nervous re
‘the heat death of the universe’ while still,
each lucid day and hour, surrounded by
the weathering of paint and timber, the sway
of ageing fences, the vanishing of friends
who live on in a street sign or
a run of unremembered numbers.
I contemplate a cabernet
brought up from a cellar and
adjusting to the room.
‘Entropy’ is not the word for when
the word itself turns absolute, its small
white light a revelation, the last thing on
our retina before the conflagration,
that box of dry, compliant ashes.
Why is it then I’m moved but not consoled
remembering Les Murray who believed
Houses pass into Paradise continually,
voices, loved fields, all wearing away into Heaven.
A PAIR OF TAWNIES
6:30 on these August mornings
we’ve only slowly come to see
a pair of tawny frogmouths who
have learned to imitate the tree
they’ve roosted on for generations
before we human beings arrived,
brandishing new names for them
according to our several tribes.
Have the tawnies huddled there
ever heard their name in Latin?
Podargus strigoides. Yes,
taxonomy inflicts its pattern.
They seem so paired and unassuming
dozing on their winter branch,
back from one long night of killing
frogs and slugs and mice and ants.
I’d rather hoped they’d glide like owls
romantic on the midnight air
but though I’m told their flying’s ‘weak’
there’s little that evades their stare.
Some mornings they do not appear.
Do they choose another tree?
Why is it when they’re not at home
we feel our own fragility?
September soon and they’ll be breeding,
taking turns to warm their nest.
Sweet progeny of predators,
we’re bred to do what we do best.