'Neither on this Mountain' by Ben Walter | States of Poetry Tasmania - Series Two

walk hard –

grains of weather glitter like the night has sunk,
streaks of thin stars, light rain sharpening the scrub;
we are small, so small in the draining sky
as squalls stroke searching for our skin.
sweat-slumped on tussocks, raw pools
smoking in the famished sun.

dragging mud across my knees,
I whip my skin with shards.
words are blunt in whisperings of gust.

walk hard –

no honour now for forms of fashioned sand,
trudging hymns and letters from the pines,
so many echoes pressed on pebbles; our feet
recite their chants as eyes beseech
the cool vaults hammered from the cloud,
split pews slung by wavering columns.

the yellow gums were moved,
I have candles in my hands.
this calendar of worship nettles moons.

walk hard –

such easy mist settling in low valleys;
wooden toes adrift from maps, the margins
dense and white. our fingers cease
to link in cramped log barricades with
rats scrawling slogans on the walls. where then,
the vision of our bodies lifted up?

we do not walk as withdrawn saints,
we do not go naked into the west.

Ben Walter

Ben Walter

Ben Walter

Ben Walter’s poetry, fiction, and essays have been widely published in Australian journals, including Meanjin, Island, Southerly, and The Lifted Brow. His début novel manuscript was the winner of the people’s choice category in the 2017 Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes. He won the 2016 John Shaw Neilson Poetry Award, and was runner-up in Overland’s VU Short Story Prize. His latest book is Conglomerate, published as part of the Lost Rocks series.