We are following a track that loops
around a lake impaled with trees,
a pinned-down habitat for platypuses
I would like to see, so try to walk
silently until a shadow across the sun-
dried turf in front of me blushes
curls and slides down a bank.
I stop, tell you what I've seen, smile
at the luck. You jump onto a log.
For the rest of the walk, we stomp
and you look for a eucalypt branch
you can thump like a third foot
to seem heavier and many-er.
We discuss tourniquets, mobile
reception, anti-venom, helicopters.
Intermittently I mention the platypuses,
explain that my country's native species
hide in timidity not anticipation
so I seldom feel like prey. Giant ferns
and no people remind me of home.
At the far edge of the ellipse I recall
the lake is a fifty-year-old mistake
flooded with rainfall and dammed
by tonnes of weather-made shingle.
Humans would not choose to leave
a hundred trees piercing the water's
surface. The orchard of totem poles
seems tapu, uncanny as a gallery.
Past trunks, smooth and muscled
like horse flesh, I forget to march
find myself creeping, not watching
for monotremes but ghosts or
artists, reverent and vaguely willing
my Achilles to be bitten in exchange
for an encounter with the creator.
Extract from Our Effects