Beneath the South Head Old Road, 1835
In this city water is a sacred word
held in the mouth like a wet stone.
My jug is never full, but always
leaching with polluted longing.
Beneath the South Head Old Road
the purl of a rill darkly lurking, the colour of tea
but free from every taste or smell,
so gently lenient against my lips .
It is not my country under the street
but there is a kind of welcome, a barely perceptible
dialect hissing in the sandstone, beckoning me to lie down
inside the rough hewn tunnel,
let last year’s rain roll me in its forgetting;
the sweet cadence of riffled grain
seeping through sandstone,
hand and tongue.
I have swallowed the centuries
and pissed them back into the dirt:
all trickle and spin, thought and world
imbibed afresh as though there were such a thing as new water.
There is no cloudburst this year.
Nothing to rely upon except that oozing sweat
squeezed from the brittle sponge of ground:
spit it back, suck it up, spit it back.