The New Continent


What country, friends, is this?
Twelfth Night, Act 1, sc 2

another tourist-priced town,
shacks upscaled in treated pine and Colorbond®
— woodland grey, classic cream, surf mist —
stilted up the hillsides.

Colonial Palms, Sea Breeze,
Ocean Rest, Foxtel, balcony views, in-house dining
(fisherman’s basket, steak dianne, chips n salad).

Tinderbox houses ring
the gullied remains of the forest.
Ironbark and bloodwood

giants, sideshow to the understorey
of acacias, lantana and morning glory. Says,
‘When this bastard goes up best just walk away.’

Contrary to accepted, the horizon is not a line
but a jagged blade, the elements saw
against each other constantly swapping molecules

and though it’s cold, the headland’s dancing in the heat.
Viola in drag profiled against the burnished
sea, the air snatches her scarf.

A line rushes across the sand like a new idea.

What woke me so early
with Venus low in the sky
like an A380 on final approach?

It was the New Continent !
I had to look twice, past the estuary and the point,
a cliff far taller almost a wall.

Even though it was dark, the land was full of detail:
trees and trees and trees, a coast below, a line of surf,
silver waterfalls draining the land’s emergence.

An ordinary shore, weathered in familiar processes:
erosion, deposition. Streetlights, houses,
a driver like a star round the hairpins.

How had I overlooked this?
Tomorrow we’ll set out to explore.

But on waking the sky was blank
and the picturesque oyster flats drain
over the usual drudge.

Image: Merimbula Rocks (detail) by Sasha Fernandez on Flickr. A holiday piece posted on Dverse open link night. And for anyone travelling this season, here’s Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, performed by Bang on a Can to help pass the time.


33 thoughts on “The New Continent

  1. Ah, there are some wonderful images and perspectives in here like “tinderbox houses”, the horizon as a “jagged blade”, line rushing along the sand “like a new idea”, Venus “like an A380”, et al. Guess you didn’t miss out on all of this in your view after all. Overall, it is so good to read something refined and well done — I really enjoyed reading it out loud. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovers have an eye this acute, one that is knowing and judging and mercilessly yearning for a single detail in which to begin itself. This seaside town is known from long habitation with the language of it – local, sun-bleached, passing –that’s why (for this reader) found such hope in “how had I missed this?” and saw a door opening for other poems, perhaps of the same shore but at angles and depths suggestive of a new continent …

    Liked by 2 people

  3. To see with new eyes opens new things, and I do find the layers of descriptive tourist seaside/suburb setting… very funny.
    But there still lies the wildness of the tides and the pulse of the undiscovered country around each corner, in relation to the people as well as the structures. There is, for example, “Viola in drag,” who is she… is she a cross dressing performer? In which case the moniker of drag is accurate, or since she is not singing up on a stage I have the feeling she might be a transgender woman, trying desperately to align her walk through the world with the imperatives of her hypothalamus, in which case to be viewed as in drag would be a melancholic reminder that are walks, like our planets so often sadly do not align. You intimate how a whole continent can be discovered around neighborhoods and entire galaxies between every set of ears.


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