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

Storm water piped under the cutting comes out here,
unfolding down under the surface of itself, bluish oil-haze
clotted with seeds and insects – where down the gully
dank onion weed tracks the secret paths of water – Late winter,
black cockatoos scrap and cry in the Monterey pines
which bank the gully’s side – The water flows to a standing pool
out the back of the CSL where a metal trap stops leaf-litter and bottles
and the massed reeds are that washed-out grey
which shines at dusk – From the wetlands water is pumped
up to the golf course or sometimes floods the creek, now a concrete drain
beside the motorway into the city – Across the gully
the factory generator begins itself repeatedly – Behind the cyclone fencing
its rooves stack the horizon – Smoke from its furnaces, widening out
through shadow like scratching on a lens glass, is suddenly there,
lit coils across the brick wall of the factory, blank updraft swarming
in and out of light that whitening shiver out the back
of magic lantern slides, invented depths giving its close scenes place –
The rain is first a screen that folds in on itself its
infinity of repetitions, nerve-end flares, and then the leafless furze,
its each thorn strung with unrefracted rain, is the infrastructure of a cloud
stopped on the gully’s side and at each step vacancy
scatters out of the pale tops of the grasses, untellable, singular, immune –

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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