Morning: the bay is a saucepan of milk.
The plane of the emptying Yarra, wide as countries,
sheets by. At the end of the silent street—
iron roofs, chimney pots, bare-branched trees—
where the water should be,
Then the tricked eye recovers.
The stalks of the radar spin, and now
the painted stern, easing into view.
On a round-cornered walkway
below the wings of the bridge,
a man in a boiler suit
One of us is a visitor, one
Noon: the refinery. Flame on the outlet pipe
a scrap of peach silk.
Upright like a rocket in scaffolds,
the catalytic cracker—
tearer of molecule
in catastrophic heat—
They had to unstring the power lines
to bring it up from the port.
A team of trucks drew cables,
dogs to a sled.
People lined the highway
Night: the gantry cranes
have gone to one knee,
bent their gentle animal necks
to sleep, pretend
they could not just stand up
and walk away—wade the wide river,
kick tanker trucks,
shoulder the bridge down.
The plastics plant smokes
on the mirror of Cherry Lake.
Fleet of masted steam ships
massing by dark.
All night the ships come home, moths to the lamp,
red light green light on the channel,
twinkling cities inching, glacier emptying
back in its own source,
that pool of light:
Belinda Rule’s work has appeared extensively in Australian journals and anthologies. She thanks Bundanon Trust for the residency where she alarmed and was alarmed by the cows featured in ‘Exile’