States of Poetry Series Three - ACT | 'Lichen: 13 points' by Lesley Lebkowicz

1        They know the subtler shades of green and where each one belongs;
2        and some reds:
          ochre, orange and something aching towards crimson –
          all in a single patch;
3        they grow patiently
          as little as a hair’s breadth a year;
4        and live on bark and stone and brick and soil
          and even on a bus abandoned near Jerramungup;
5        some eat that on which they live,
          working hollows into stone,
          making of diet and habitation one thing,
          a modest economy;
6        they cope with hard things
          and take on the colonising of a quarry;
7        some make minute fronds which can lift from bark into air
          or wrinkle over protrusions;
8        they are sensitive – and have been used
          to measure the pollution that we make;
9        both gentle and harsh terrains are their home,
          rainforests and deserts, and they live according to their means:
          it’s in the Arctic that they grow most slowly;
10      they have humility:
          most live for nothing but rain and air and sunshine.
11      There is, though, no such thing as lichen:
          which is made of algae and fungi in intimate relationship
          and is an image of no-self (anatta), the different elements
          wound together to create the illusion of solidity;
12      and also an image of tolerance:
          the different forms living as one.
13      In this they are a comfort.

Lesley Lebkowicz


‘Lichen: 13 points’ was was placed second in the ACU competition in 2017 and published in the shortlist chapbook.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.