Whistling up Birds at Blackheath

'Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life.' - William Stafford

i. Heading South

People change and it seems, by degrees

imperceptible over decades. In this place

the small 'i' looks into flight theory,

for a bird out of season. Life as a rule

consists of evidence, the gentle breeze

or the gale force, it leans on faith

towards chance with the family,

the friends or the lovers you take

a shine to. A belief that no amount

of change alarms, if the people

you love change with you.

But the saddest day is the one

where you find you've changed too

much and they not nearly enough.

ii. Wing Stretch

The log fire burns, all through

a sleepless stretch of evening.

The small 'i' re-working words

is hemp-loose, as ideas fall

with the passions onto paper.

At 6 a.m. the body exhausted, walks

outside smoking another one.

Plumes tickle and rise in the head,

drift from the hand and the mouth.

There's a mounting chatter of birds all

about, they rustle and stir in the bush

behind. Drawn closer, no doubt

by the sweet stench that floats

thick, in Kanimbla's sub-zero air.

iii. Air Spirals

It's the vertigo and the wind

that gets me, holds me reticent

just one step away from the edge.

From the top of this plateau,

it's a sheer drop into silence and

the cavernous mystery beneath.

The valley is fluted in layers of mist,

a scene stealer for the tourist and

the small 'i' alone on the stone

ledge of so vast an expanse.

Catching my wits and my breath,

I recall a friend having said, that

a woman mountaineer once

saw god on K2's summit.

iv. Weightless Flight

There's experience in that possibility,

in that solitary view of the infinite.

Precipitation clears from the valley

as birds and bird song, wing

through the sun-filtered clouds.

And just beyond the falls,

two iridescent rainbows form

these perfect tri-colour arcs.

The sky is winter-blue and enormous.

The small 'i' subdued, watches day

pass and the sun shine on the valley.

Considers how easy the choice

to take one step out and glide

weightless on air currents.

v. Tail Feathers

Vegetation grows lush all the way

down through the Megalong.

The car winds the slim web of road

until it flattens out into scrub country.

Horses graze close to the Tea Rooms

where there's hot food and a fire.

This valley less awesome up close,

less imposing than the view

from the top plateau suggests.

On the way back up, echoes

of parrots and lyrebirds ring.

The weather ominous, as feathers

float with the snowfall when birds

lift from the trees and are gone.

vi. Skyways

In the adobe house, fire

warms flesh, while the heart

beats and the small 'i' wonders

'where exactly in this anatomy

do wings fit?' In the cerebellum,

which itself feels nothing,

synapses spark and push

memory's sharp edges

into tissue, of the heart

or the head, with no reply.

It makes no difference, what

the small 'i' decides - just

because they can, birds will

stretch out their wings and fly.

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