The gum opens out into the night, presents faces to the
night sky which recede and advance like space itself.
It’s as if tides of gums were collapsing upon one another before they were frozen in place.
Forests of them were bulging and bubbling and rippled.
(They were tumultuous places, those forests.)
It’s as if the gums are still trying to move—or perhaps
they are moving, but very, very slowly.
At any rate, there are a number of bottlenecks down there in the bush
and those trees that have been pushed to the edges
are about to fall into the ravines
—suspecting something of the chaotic events which led to this precarious situation,
we could surmise that the trees have hurled—that
the trees are hurling—out their branches
in all directions, in myriad attempts
to grasp something to hold onto, or to anchor themselves.
It does seem as if each eucalypt-mountain ash to blue gum-was in the process of
throwing out its limbs
before it was frozen, or caught in the act.
So that their peach and rose and lemon blossoms are remnant gasps,
like bubbles bursting on the surface; they nod in the wind
but their purpose is to explore the periphery
like periscopes, to get a sense of the size
of time’s great, cooling cavern
and of how long they might have to wait.
Those blossoms touch on something smooth as a salmon-hued trunk
but incomprehensible as liquid quartz.
It’s probably fair to say that the gums were on the way somewhere
when trapped by our sight.
In their incarceration they are either waiting patiently or they’re slowly dying.
They appear to me to be doing the latter—shedding bark, losing currawongs
and koalas, bowing their black chests into fires,
only to be rescued again by cream and cool ochre paints,
by some green splashes of leaf that have trickled in from the other world,
the other world that left them behind
but still bleeds into this one
and wraps around each tree like a slick, gelatinous membrane.
But, locked in this network of light, such brief respite would hardly be enough.
So it’s more likely they’re waiting, or inching towards an escape,
reaching for a slip in the field
that we’re too fast to catch.
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