Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Barry Dickins Poem

The Million Australias

You gaze into a wintry silver pond and what do you see there?
Well, your nose to begin with. Possibly an outline of frosty air
And breath, let’s not forget your breath. And your old friends the trees
The outline of something you were thinking aloud: An interrupting breeze
A word or two that say winter in English
Or tell you how cold and sharp it is today in Portuguese
A library pond and pages of wintry words
Now an incredibly important meeting between birds
Who can remember Captain Cook and Mrs. Cook two hundred years ago
When he first saw student dolphins and librarians from Atlantis
Dreamt long ago of Aboriginals inventing short stories in ashes
Years go by taxi and now there are a million Australias all reading
Translations from wintry silver ponds and talking about dreaming
Walking The Long Narrow Road to The North by Basho the Chinese mystic
He is reading his early morning poem to rain that’s almost crystal
Pioneers in the raindrops turning over favourite marked passages of sun
Flemington is tracing the murmured lettering of The Songs of Solomon
Teachers are listening very carefully to their teachers the children
The topics are endless, like glee, mystery, secret access to incredible buildings
Spanish singing overheard from unknown windowpanes
Cranes and sparrows - are they Australians? Oh let us arrange our dreams
Once more in the old design of openness and the one language of dreams
Is it still a hundred years ago or more? This is the Blessed Door
Time to get up and go to work: And what’s the work but writing for God
Up those ancient seawave steps again to write for the poor and give more
Lines of dreaming to the captive schoolchildren in their desks of hope
My Grandmother is getting up to go to work in 1900 did you know her?
A factory job where she worked her brains out to put bread upon the waves
Of sea tables where dolphins memorized their morning prayer and saved
A Fragment of her laughter to share with a thousand other pioneers
The old lady, Australia, shakes the toy world of learning now
Holds it upside down and smiles as meaning tumbles down into snow
Every single person is sitting up nice and straight in classrooms of brightness
Each old story tumbles down in the printed snowflake of brightness
What you said to me a hundred years ago: What I said back just then
What herons said to pigeons and teachers dreamt of in rooms like beacons
All possible and all beautiful because we bothered to record stories.


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