Poems of the day

Sunday, October 01, 2006

At The Midden - Ted Constable

At The Midden - Ted Constable

The sunlight found a throughway in the cloud bank's indigo
And dreamed a golden edge along the hill
Seeped softly, slowly downwards through atmospheric drift
Then lit to flickering rest unpon a rill...
Broke up in silent shatterings of semi-precious glass
Alternating as they swung in grand quadrille
The blacklight hung a willow tree with shades of green and white
And I could only stare and stand stock still.

Then sunset brought a violence of purple splashed with red
And shadows from the past came crowding round
A rock fall showed a stratum of midden shell packed close
In retrospect an ancient tribal ground.
Could that be woodsmoke rising from the many feasting fires?
Or dust raised by invading horse hooves' beat?
Is that the voice of rainbird predicting end of drought?
Or exodus on terrified bare feet?

The shell-like scrap I'm holding (wrong shape for ocean shell)
Is part of shell that crowned a human life
A flush of tinted crimson, reflex of sunset's glow
Hints silently its part in bygone strife
This perfect crafted axe-head, too fine to throw away
Was dropped here where its owner met his death.
This remnant of a musket! It came off second best
When transfixed trooper choked on bloodied breath.

That early strife is finished now, the forests have been felled
All easy gold long sifted from the stream
The mysteries that drove men on are common knowledge now
Cold facts refuse to yield another dream.
The hard-hooved mobs still crush the life from out the fragile earth
Where padding feet caressed a leaf-strewn floor
Soft edges of the grey-green bush give away to steel and brick
So man may leave his geometric spoor.


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