Walking Home

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Morning had rolled its great intestine,
the pallid cuckoo had sung, the notes
falling on the dark horizon like rain.
And day ended with rain, through sun
like fire in the afternoon
breaking across the open ground, rain
stamping and steaming from the tractor’s
hot iron.

Sodden, all thought
drummed out by the tractor,
I ploughed one more cut of the paddock
then walked for home,
stumbling across the clods
where the scalloped discs had broken
out fresh earth,

through the roar of trees,
a far-off murmur in the hills,
the sky: and this same soft plosion,
sonorous and repeating,
from each step, like the first
and last phrase ever spoken.
I was in the drench of ecstasy,
mutely, on a huge crescent of land
as if walking on the eyelids
of gods.

But I was impelled home
away from the ringing paddocks,
the dying radiance. Habits had
regained the flesh, dullards to walk
me the mile home.

Outside the house, a glow in a window.
I stepped onto the dim verandah,
to the laundry and the coat-rack
where I saw, for the thousandth time,
stained coats and trousers
several deep on the hooks, hanging
like derelicts.

Other translations:

Morning had rolled its great intestine,
the pallid cuckoo had sung, notes
falling on the dark horizon like rain.
And day ended with rain, through sun
like fire in the afternoon
breaking across the open ground, rain
stamping along the furrows I was ploughing,
spattering and steaming from the tractor’s
hot iron.

Sodden, all thought
drummed out by the tractor,
I walked for home,
stumbling across the clods
where the scalloped discs had broken
forces in the earth.

Roar of the trees,
a far-off murmur in the hills,
Universe flowing from the purple flare
of sky: this same soft plosion,
sonorous and repeating, shaping
from each step, like the first
and last phrase ever spoken.
I was in the drench of ecstasy,
blindly, mutely, on a huge crescent of land
reading the book of law, year by year
walking on the eyelids of Gods.

Under huge stirrings in gumtrees,
water bubbling down the smooth trunks.
Becoming dark. I thought of the cuckoo chick
feeling the rain on mottled nerves
and waiting for its sightless meal
in a stolen nest.

I was impelled home,
away from the ringing paddocks,
the dying radiance. Habits, almost guiltily,
regained the flesh, dullards to walk me home,
these selves who master me.

Hesitated
outside the house, a glow in a window.
Then stepped onto the dim verandah,
to the laundry and the coat-rack
where I saw, for the thousandth time
stained coats and trousers
several deep on the hooks, hanging
like derelicts.

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