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Imitating Rural Imitation

After Robert Browning’s ‘Two in the Campagna’
October 2022, no. 447

Imitating Rural Imitation

After Robert Browning’s ‘Two in the Campagna’
October 2022, no. 447

This place we live is termed ‘rural’
or ‘countryside’ by arrangement
with or of the planters of grains,
the breeders of animals for
slaughter, by conservative vote.

But we’re entangled among stalks
of wild oats, amidst firebreaks,
trying to coax that native bush
back to have its say, to undo
the rural we are entrenched in.

I always think of you when I’m
troubled by my presence – the rocks
that affect me but can’t know me,
the marks of weather in the soil,
a honeyeater’s heritage.

I spend so much time both outdoors
and in studying those insects
which ‘no one’ seems to be very
familiar with, or rather feel
lost because they can’t pin a name.

In this niche, this valley backed by
vast plains now made bare by yellow
De Stijl modified canola
framed as science meets edibles;
trials to boost outcomes ghost those genes.

And I don’t forget each day as
it runs into night, as each leaf
floats or is tossed onto the roof,
as the possum rearranges
to suit its own intensities.

Can it be said that we have known
ourselves beneath the ghostly trees,
a fertility in the dry
sclerophyll forest? With such mixed
experience, interlaced thoughts?

There is a politics to our
presence; there is repetition
in how we interpret that first
welcome and what was done in its
name by those who made the rural.

I so easily enjoy food
you make, so readily ‘partake’.
The interjections of labour.
The less than synchronous bodies
that we arrange in this setting.

Inexorably, but often
joyfully, said once then again –
that reassurance we locate
in greenness rising from that dirt –
tautology and paradox.

The first lashes of a spider
flower, planted in specks of fool’s
gold, a glitter that pierces cloud
to send sun back, overheating.
We are within that red assay.

What did we learn in Rome that we
can’t learn here? The ruins of farms,
the ruination of ideas
fusing ‘agrarian’ with ‘song’?
That was already here.

'Imitating Rural Imitation: After Robert Browning’s "Two in the Campagna"', a new poem by John Kinsella

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