- Oblong Turtle, and: Jam Tree Gully Villanelle
Despite the name change, the southwesternsnake-necked turtle, which as kids we calleda long-necked tortoise, even its Latin attributionbeing shunted along from Chelodina oblongato Chelodina colliei—the old colonial ruse keeps
on tracking on. Despite the name change, the oblongshapedshell of this turtle with its snaking neckdampens light as it moves deadly fastunderwater—I see it I see it! With jawsand claws bringing prey to its genetic baseline.
How many did we handle around the swamp,their necks and head and limbs working the air,shit spouting out to make us yelp? But allwent back to the water, and they live long—maybe they'd remember, which is no affirmation.
But today, the decades impacted as from above,I saw—I see it I see it (quietly now)—slicinglow the clear, then blurring (depth), green-bottomedwaters of Coal Dam—into the realms of the reclaimed,a coot diving wrapped in its sleeve of air, distracting.
But I have no say on the formulations—tracesof air bubbles rising out from between khakistalagmites, the rails and gantries drawn into the pit.Oblong turtle—deadly to much other swamp life,seen, changing the conditions so lost to me, its echolocator [End Page 132]
chirruping that prey of a "fresh water" realmwhere coal had been stored for the railway—trains going north, south, east. I can only addI had and have no name for it—no name otherthan a familiarity of touch, of closeness, of smell
I should never have possessed. But curiosityremains—to leave alone but watch, to add to the recordsof deposition, to add to the oral and written recordsof roughly being present. We would have calledthis turtle "tortoise." And we would have surely let it go. [End Page 133]
Jam Tree Gully Villanelle
Insects erupt out of the thick, lime-green grass—a flying up that is escape and expedition;a flying up that is full-on engagement.
A guess where the brown honeyeaters nest?—but don't verify;expect the sun skink to glow on the sleeper, hold back the dirt.Insects erupt out of the thick, lime-green grass.
As branches beyond the windows extend,the angles stay roughly the same, though arms lengthen;a flying up that is full-on engagement.
And the shy sun orchid is reconstituting,though proof of its flowering is slightly withheld—insects erupt out of the thick, lime-green grass.
It's not that we want it to be one and the same,but for the same to have scope to change—a flying up that is full-on engagement.
Air is the most stable imprint, and air always laments—a scorpion fly, a painted lady, at the interchange =insects erupt out of the thick, lime-green grass,a flying up that is full-on engagement. [End Page 134]
john kinsella's most recent books of poetry include Firebreaks and Drowning in Wheat. Insomnia will be published by W. W. Norton this fall. He is a fellow of Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, and a professor of literature and environment at Curtin University in Western Australia.