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Manoa 18.2 (2006) 165-166

Two Poems
Mark Tredinnick



West of the divide smells like
Sadness and eternity,
Like ancient history
And forgiveness. Smells like red
Gravel and white spinifex.


I take the plane's rear stairs out
Into the aftermath of
Rain down onto slick tarmac.
Canberra. Brindabellas.
A good sheep station ruined.
Not far west, but far enough.


West of the divide, the land
Smells like itself, not the sea.
It smells like country, old, old
Rain, like cattle and granite.
Inland the air has the tone
Of sheoak and cockatoo,
Dry creek and geology—
A dry peneplain of doubt.


Wherever you are, the smell
Of rain coming or just gone [End Page 165]
Is the smell of the same rain
Locally inflected. Here
It's limestone and politics,
Paddocks and poplars and grief.


West of the divide smells of
Lichen and salt and dryness
Itself, bore water and wheat
Silos, crows' cries and distance.
A continent of long time.


West of the divide smells like
Where you'd want to come from if
You knew who you really were.

Canberra, November 2005

Ideas of Heaven

for Takiora

Is this your idea of heaven?
It's pretty enough and green
And there are mountains and hula dancers
And all these gods and their unregenerate language,
Their open thighs
And the sea.
My idea of heaven
Gets less rain. It is not lush,
And it burns
Like hell.
If this is heaven,
Send me home.
But keep it, please.
We need all the heavens we can get.
Earth is so much less itself without them.

Häna, August 2005

Mark Tredinnick is a poet, essayist, and writing teacher. His books include A Place on Earth (unsw Press, 2003), The Land's Wild Music (Trinity University Press, 2005), The Little Red Writing Book (unsw Press, 2006), and a forthcoming landscape memoir, The Blue Plateau. His writing has appeared in Best Australian Essays and in journals in Australia and the United States. Winner of the WildCare Nature Writing Prize and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize, he lives with his family in Annandale, Sydney.