A complicated song

This poem was written with thanks on unceded Wodi-Wodi land 

Here I am grateful to be up early 
while the house is still asleep and 
the sky is the colour of blood plums. 
To slip into the kitchen, take the last orange 
from the china bowl, quarter it 
bleeding juice and cells, and give thanks.

Thanks for the orchard near Griffith
6 hours west of here where it’s still night 
the whoosh of frost fans, the fruit like lanterns 
hung in the bladed leaves. And for 
the Italian diaspora, out of poverty 
and crumbling fields to new south wales — grazie, milli grazie.  

And ever for the Wiradjuri Nation on whose land 
this fruit grew. For quartz knives and scrapers 
singing trade routes thru the alluvium. 
For the mottled cod on a rock face and 
a deep well of water hidden by a flat stone 
— say mandaang guwu (that’s Wiradjuri for thank you).

To the picker from Kiribati grateful 
for our wages (less board, less diesel, less this ‘n that). 
In three months, he’ll see his family
they’ll buy a Chinese solar battery 
so their daughter can do her homework at night
sitting up out of the tide — and they’ll give thanks. 

Such abundance, such good juice. 3 aussie dollars 
buys a netful from my grocers. There’s Damascus pop 
on the radio and in season you get the best broad beans. 
They pile nets of glorious navels in bins by the doorway 
and help mothers in hijabs and elders in duffle coats 
load their trollies high — and say shukran.

Wait. Time for one final thanks:
for this morning’s morning chorus, the honeyeater’s tchlik
the blackbird in the casuarina — another settler 
another feral import, useless but to assuage 
an Englishman’s nostalgia at breakfast and 
to bless us in our loud, complicated song. 

Image: Postcard, the Parent Navel Orange Tree, Riverside, California, c. 1930, Boston Public Library c/- Wikimedia Commons. This is the image of the ur-navel orange, the mutation that occurred in oranges around 200 years ago that produced the navel. All other navels are clones of this one blessed tree.

I’m sorry for not posting for a while but here’s a new poem which I hope you’ll enjoy.

And for music today, (I know I’ve linked this before) to celebrate seasonal change wherever you find yourself, here’s Max Richter’s Four Seasons (Youtube).