Elizabeth’s Dream

after Fiona Hall’s ‘Folly for Mrs Macquarie’
 
I
 
The axe, the dagger, the scythe:
to cleave, to cut, to end.
 
Wire and bones:
division and death.
 
The pines on the island:
brittle, abandoned.
 
What, then, of this?
Pleasure, uselessness –
 
A road that leads to the sea.
A shelf of rock for a chair.
 
It’s said I keep a mean table.
I wake up hungry. I know one day
 
we will leave. We shall not return.
I count out coins with eyes cut into them.
 
 
II
 
On some nights, when the wind
blows from the south, I weep.
 
He lies next to me, turned away.
I lost her, as he lost the first Jane.
 
I hear the pipers in my sleep,
piping out the forgotten and
 
the unnamed. Child after child
after child – failing to take root,
 
like these crops. So much water
and no rain. We build churches,
 
barracks, stables, wide verandahs…
To what end? This house,
 
these gardens, this land:
our dream, and our folly.
 

 

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