It took me all day
being too busy, bustling about,
blind as a bee in a honey-
bubble, buzzing, buzzing
to forget to pick parsley for dinner.
Now it takes only seconds
stumbling into darkness, defying
funnelwebs, my feet in the dew
feeling earth hook down rag rugs
over querulous cicadas —
not even floating on a white raft
of torchlight, but following my senses
as they search for fraying edges
which prick the damp air, low lives
of oregano, marjoram, mint — scrambled
herbs which needle into the night
a crewel embroidery of odour.
It takes only seconds
suspended above this tapestry of risk,
for darkness to shock back my sight.
Under small tree ferns I see
these mutant elephant tusks, my fingers
sprout and maraud, as the black
colander of sky drains down star-sparks
over this huge jungle where
not-quite on grey knees I subside,
my leather hide learning the parsley’s braille prick.
(from The Satin Bowerbird 1998)