• John Kinsella

Confluence and Emily Brontë’s and Branwell Brontë’s and Anne Brontë’s poems in my head—waiting, waiting—and what hand did Charlotte have in it all though I think of this later, transcribing from memory [A companion poem to the in situ from my notebook]


Waiting down from the corner of Mayo and Toodyay Roads

looking north to the rise of the hills, wandoos making angles


of elevation to their angles of depression because they watch

us, believe me, they do — I am waiting for Tim’s bus to roll in


almost on time, long journey, familiarity, looking up at wandoos

old wandoos at a time of virulent crown decline but these


aerial trees are brazen standing out advertising for what is

what should remain growing down into their roots funnelling


the ‘spirit’s sky’ — not mine but I know whose it is — these

‘spectral trees’, this taking of a template of language from so


‘not of here’ it’s absurd, everything different but not imagination

which ‘flashed upward from the scattered glass’ which is every


horrific road accident on this stretch every shattered windscreen

sidewindow passengers and drivers all of this in the confluence


of lines I draw at in my head waiting passing time and I think

the ghost trunks and limbs are exposed roots of defiance


and retreat and explication and why do I recall the word ‘flash’

from all those flowing on undivided rearranged by orderly


types those poems of Emily’s and Branwell’s and Anne’s I rely on

mix up mix up and merged and fragmenting I find release


from the colonial dungeons they’d have tapped into wonder

but exposed to the tyrannies would have rebelled


wildly against taking sides ‘beyond earth’s frenzied strife’ —

is that from memory how the lines goes, leading into


‘that makes destruction joy’ which I can do nothing with

in this realm so destroyed resistance is a tree overlapping


a tree and haunting and glory white as late day is with glare,

such a horrifying aberration in this politics of presence


in the surviving the run where trucks thunder-and-flash

with the ingredients for builds robbed from hills & pits.





The uncanny tree considered while listening to the ‘Purgatorio’ and ‘Magnificat’ movements of Liszt’s a symphony to Dante’s ‘Divine comedy’


[Canto XXII of Purgatorio bleeding all the way through to the opening canto of Paradiso]


In remnant forest the shock can be the small insert of pines

like a slice of bad memory put into action, pruned to a height

maybe fifteen or twenty times the height of an average person,


with ‘average’ the play of deletion of jarrah or marri to bite

a chunk out of the endemic, the native, the land’s predisposition.

Such silviculture is a knotty problem for the naturalist


perusing the maps or stumbling on a pine forest as sudden

as a fence or cataclysm, to pass through under the triangle

of needles where no casual tree-climber might requisition


the high life or light of above, the shattering sunlight the angle

of epiphany that is beyond their grasp. But white-tailed black cockatoos

are surging among the cones and food is there if claws are angels’


spreadwings of wet weather, and the single-winged seeds excised, too,

some spilling below to twirl like scruples on the high edge of a dilating city,

these tales of family of adulating the forest of following orders of roos


nibbling at the edges of surveys. And so we have recourse to pity

and silence and meditative moments when the stretched song of the feeders

lassoes the ‘native’ and ‘introduced’ species on fringes, and a chitty


chitty works insects and sawlogs ache in the orchestration of conifers.

Whose voices chime in now? Which church group or mountain bike

club or orienteering clique? All are silent as one tree looms and they defer


for no obvious reason, as if it is a key to the intrusion of ‘like

for like’ — tree for tree — as if exchangeable in the ‘mystery of nature’.


This one tree the cockatoos leave last — spine-call, light-spike.