Pilliga dreaming

Bruce McIntyre

The Gamillaroi people believed they could be reborn as birds.

That you have been beheld far up the valley
of time is enough for you to be clothed
in the mottled dry scaly skin of a great
wormform pushing up its devoured earthfood
as sandy excrescence, rolling into
the air and there to lie metamorphosed
in human form but already old bathed
now motionless in the soft green grassy
valley of the Dandry, now a wrinkled
elder rising from sleep and death to press
lips one last time and for good to the sky,
for the enormous capping sky sinking
low to the lowlying land rules eternal
here and where you’re bound to return, a bird.


Absurd of length the worm shall breach out there
at Gundabooka too, chasing its love
the sun before twisting back to rise in jubilation
to the rising warmth, slowly, over myriad
risings up the tired slopes and down the valleys
of contorted sandstone where your mouthless lips
have hungrily gouged out sheltering hollows
effervesced in ochre swirls for inspiration.
All gods are just the dusty accumulation of dreams
sung and sprayed and filed in the seams
of the aspiring land. Desire is enough
to clothe you as a giant transformation
and leave you as a hieroglyph, one more
before I breathe the feathered air and fly.

The Pilliga is an area of forest in New South Wales, Australia.