Judith Wright Poems

Judith Wright Poems

All Things Conspire

All things conspire to hold me from you – even my love, since that would mask you and unnameable modulate, happen behind it. But I am always hungry
for you, as if you were a strange perfume.

You, who are the food of my desire,
feel like a stranger in our world,
unreal, too beautiful to bear,
bringing with you a scent of home
that leaves behind an echo of regret.

You have become a myth, a legend
with nothing to do but persist,
shining in the darkness of our lives
like a star, remote and unreachable.

But I know you are there, waiting for me,
and all things that conspire to hold me
from you are only momentary,
shadows that will soon fade away.

Blue Arab

The small blue Arab stallion dances on the hill
like a glancing breaker, like a storm rearing in the sky,
In his prick-ears, the wind, that wanderer and spy,
sings of the dunes of Arabia, lion-coloured still.

The small blue stallion poses like a centaur-god,
netting the sun in his sea-spray mane, forgetting
his stalwart mares for a phantom galloping unshod;
changing for a heat-mirage his tall and velvet hill.

Bora Ring

The song is gone; the dance
is secret with the dancers in the earth,
the ritual useless, and the tribal story
lost in an alien tale.

Only the grass stands up
to mark the dancing-ring; the apple-gums
posture and mime a past corroboree,
murmur a broken chant.

The hunter is gone; the spear
is splintered underground; the painted bodies
a dream the world breathed sleeping and forgot.
The nomad feet are still.

Only the rider’s heart
halts at a sightless shadow, an unsaid word
that fastens in the blood of the ancient curse,
the fear as old as Cain.

Bullocky

Beside his heavy-shouldered team
thirsty with drought and chilled with rain,
he weathered all the striding years
till they ran widdershins in his brain:

Till the long solitary tracks
etched deeper with each lurching load
were populous before his eyes,
and fiends and angels used his road.

All the long straining journey grew
a mad apocalyptic dream,
and he old Moses, and the slaves
his suffering and stubborn team.

Then in his evening camp beneath
the half-light pillars of the trees
he filled the steepled cone of night
with shouted prayers and prophecies.

While past the campfire’s crimson ring
the star struck darkness cupped him round.
and centuries of cattle-bells
rang with their sweet uneasy sound.

The grass is across the wagon-tracks,
and plough strikes bone beneath the grass,
and vineyards cover all the slopes
where the dead teams were used to pass.

O vine, grow close upon that bone
and hold it with your rooted hand.
The prophet Moses feeds the grape,
and fruitful is the Promised Land.

Drought Year

During that time of drought, the numbered air
burned to the roots of timber and grass.
The crackling lime-scrub would not bear
and Mooni Creek was sand that year.
The dingo’s cry was strange to hear.

I heard the dingoes cry
in the scrub on the Thirty-mile Dry.
I saw the wedgetail take his fill
perching on the seething skull.
I saw the eel wither where he curled
in the last blood-drop of a spent world.

I heard the bone whisper in the hide
of the big red horse that lay where he died.
The prop that horse up, make him stand,
hoofs turned down in the bitter and make him stand at the gate of the Thirty-mile Dry. Turn this way and you will die-
and strange and loud was the dingoes’ cry.

Failure of Communion

What is the space between,
enclosing us in one
united person, yet
dividing each alone.

Frail bridges cross from the eye
to the eye, from flesh to flesh,
from word to word: the net
is gapped at every mesh,

and this each human knows:
however, close our touch
or intimate our speech,
silences, spaces reach
most deep, and will not close.

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