By JOHN KINSELLA
‘More to pollen ascript for elated finish’
—J. H. Prynne
All these gardens conspiring to feed
and breathe world out of the land grant
militarism reward sequencing of global
conflict and landlordism and the property
market — the billionaire media owner
overflies border to celebrate the war
dead patriotic as mapping and jamming
airwaves with pastiche to reveal the scumminess
of old ways as the empty template of newness
lets go one iota of consumer claim or
shifting ‘need’ and ‘necessity’ out of relative
luxury and tools of self-affirmation. All terms
adapt to the sway of flowers setting fruit,
seeds forming. All that restlessness of triumvirates
and leaders edging towards apotheosis.
Whose speech is eclipsed in the rise
of pharma-gardens, the saviours
in labs. Sentinels testing sentinels.
Nothing times to the almanac
though the almanac was set
in the misalignment to perpetuate
in own images, always imaginal.
Western time surely can’t be so blithely
rolled into one, the collapsed sundial
in the failed love garden — cupid upended?
The gardens are isolated relying
on the winds to carry ingredients
of diversity, as base as both of us
counting the notes bandied about
by birds we insinuate into our wiping
of brow to mark with soil, with dust.
I wonder why you listen to Lou Reed’s
‘Satellite of Love’ when you have no
social contact and remain intact,
deeply involved in vegetable
conversation? And you deplore
the ring-a-ring o’ roses band colossus
of starlinks you could follow all the way
to night-gatherings, and fall into barn
owl’s eyes happy to let go and be gone.
I am nonplussed. Flowers inimical
set themselves as flowers faulted
Lorenz cypher to make break war
deliverance parent of and yet and yet.
Seems we’re not at each other’s
trenches or reservoirs but calque
of a set of values — no literacy
in horticulture but illumination
in the vascular, in sugars and sun.
Always interlinear reflections,
taking scenes in to set for profit,
somewhere somehow — sustain.
Off notes of decline, ‘carbon capture’.
Situational panegyric hoodwink
is still elegiac, nonetheless.
Barely tolerate threshold shepherds
complying with media conference
calls to slash feet on stony ground
where ice illustrated a get-away,
a call to roots and fungicides,
to be left dangling strains
of foot powder. As wry
as la-la land relief — self-
fulfilling Gallus who can only
speak here via a cipher: all these
garden voices accumulated
like a genome, a resequencing
of the chronological you got stuck
within the botanical gardens at another home —
without a dwelling a home that barely
calls you more than a temporary resident. Repeat.
‘Computes its time as well as we’
is what you mean? Little look in.
Industrious as drought, and a paradox
of bees — I love them all, though the blue-banded
bee has been driven out, and flowers adapt.
They will have their zodiacs, and we
our meals, our reward of provision.
Scale and blight windows to other
life is fine to maintain a broader
health, and no slicing to the bone.
No. As if asked to hymn an answer.
(((Margin of shade to rise out of tilt and slant of sun)))
Banking would usurp a raised bed avoidance of tetchy
soil, a rocky aftermath of wash-away, of defoliation.
Dwelling settles on the flattened, stake to stake. A gamble.
(((Cloud behind cloud behind cloud and still we burn to cancer)))
Inclusive despoliation cultivates soul of ram — hear call
over valley rise a windmill farm that sunshines deeply,
artesian, and we sit above its collection, sheepless. But we
love the sheep as they surround the van of our brother and his wife
at night and protect to sleep in tune. That’s true, and happened,
and cannot be unread in the chewed down garden of paddock —
the field of translation, the bred into industry of roles in the shed.
(((Hear sheep piss together and alone on the stubble not a glint of green shoots yet)))
Eclipse of weapons is an offset of plough and love and bread
rises fresh as the garden is but a step in rights direction, a dead
without water acknowledgement of the ways of gathering;
to leave a branch sticking over the bed is to arrow the eye,
risk losing sight, but still you let it stay as bird perch,
fount of fertiliser without force, a choice, an absurdist truth.
Biopsy and biography of the greenhouse and hothouse
specialisms, the fording rivers and directing their flow
with selective naturalism, an art movement in gloves.
When they are gone to elegies, and the stalks and roots
piled high to rot down into a carpet, a spread, what will
displaced words mean, grafts they made overgrow?
And where would they be without their guides and classical
references, so contemplative almost religious without being spiritual,
or is it reverse — planting a seed and a plant outside expectation emerging?
Negative. These off-centre crops,
these sunblown shades, this heat
in the predicted chill. I utter
valley’s brink of evening,
and the herds of dry moss
and curling lichen grow
down from shadecloth above —
the baskets woven out of all extractions,
all processes, cracked — catalyst, ‘fluffed’,
extruded, set. These overlaps,
this crisis. Farewell. Fare well.
John Kinsella’s most recent volumes of poetry include Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems 1980-2015 (Picador), Insomnia (Picador/Norton) and Brimstone: a book of villanelles (Arc). His new memoir is Displaced: a rural life (Transit Lounge, Australia, 2020). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University.