States of Poetry Series Two - Victoria | 'Empirical V' by Lisa Gorton

Now on its stone heaps the tussock is dry
stalks the colour of a scratch in glass and rattling fennel
tendrils from the root – Along the cutting’s side
speargrass with a rain wind in it moves through the shape
of a catching fire – At the level of my eye, its
close horizon, grasses moving many ways
like shivers, incandescent, each force forwards
through itself into the front of light, its
single instant the field falls through perpetually –
This grey light before rain in which years
I have forgotten invent a landscape still
in what I have named landscape – ruinable,
see-through, piece by piece drawn into that blank
in thought which sets the names in their array –
tussock, speargrass, wild fennel – bright charges
hung upon abyss – Do you remember?
In head-high grass, its pale seedheads, the wind is
massing light, lights moving in place and scattering down –
the grass untidy, touchable, steeply its slant
stalks narrowing back into their likeness –
where I am going in through leaf-clatter, corner branches
out to where, between the privet and the green palings,
a space is opening the way a fire is loosed
out of the dry branch into its own existence
and does not know me, walled in itself, its
dazzling blank – The road will come through here –

Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton, who lives in Melbourne, is a poet, novelist, and critic, and a former Poetry Editor of ABR. She studied at the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford. A Rhodes Scholar, she completed a Masters in Renaissance Literature and a Doctorate on John Donne at Oxford University, and was awarded the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in Donne Studies. Her first poetry collection, Press Release (2007), won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. She has also been awarded the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. A second poetry collection followed in 2013: Hotel Hyperion (also Giramondo). Lisa has also written a children’s novel, Cloudland (2008). Her novel The Life of Houses (2015) shared the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for fiction. She is the editor of The Best Australian Poems 2013 (Black Inc.).

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