Jerrabomberra Wetlands

Alan Gould

As infiltrating water will
the river leads us from ourselves,
and March is immense and deep
in its trance of blue and barley light.

Come with me and we will invent our childhoods.
Look how already the lombardies have soared
beyond perspective, glittery fissured steeples.
Look how a zephyr has wrinkled the Molonglo
into a myriad eyelids as it slides
under the former Dairy Flat Bridge.

Let time be this century or another -
you can choose - but let it be here,
commencing from this track - how green it is,
daring almost, like a prospect of truancy,
screened on one side by timothy and cocksfoot
in their flaxen mist of verticals,
on the other by an unbroken treillage of willows
dripping leaves into chalcedony shallows.

From searching stepfathers or police
we do, of course, stay hidden
among willow aisles and willow galleries,
beneath viaducts of green and shattering light.
Frond by frond we pull our kayak or piragua
(found under leaves because we needed it),
along corridors of apple-green spawn,
through shallows of yielding linoleum.
How little, how elsewhere, Canberra is now,
sleeping off its long lunch,
as we meander, absorbing territory like foxes
like dotterel, until it is part of our presence
with its latent coves where the carp arrive
to be portculliss'd in their own amber light,
its lines of shorewrack where we pick
for valuables among draperies of cellophane,
scaring black duck which launch as one
and circle us widely with an urgent puipuipuipui,
its high cables, looping away toward Woden
and The Snowy.
    Look, here is the lagoon
fulfilling, as always, more than its promise
From its sliding lamella a seed lifts now,
sputnik of hair-thin aerials tracking
invisible alleys of slight pressure,
while at our feet are patches of eau-de-cologne mint,
their leaves like a memory of long-ago mothers.

And here in the crook of these willows
we'll sleep below the hospital hum of mosquitoes,
wake when the morning star is a silver droplet
below the moon, like a jewel suspended
below an Ottoman dagger, and the sky behind Pialligo
is rumoured with orange. Come with me.
It will be a morning of circuitous loiter;
we shall squabble unseriously, scrounge dollars -
or will it be shillings - from Fyshwick mechanics,
confide, pass through many eras of friendship
as the irrigation throws out see-through plumages
over the lucerne acres, in elisions of the real
with what is never, with what is ever.