Published 19 August 202230 August 2022 · Poetry / Friday Poetry Poetry | Penstock Lagoon Sarah Day February 2022 We wake by still water to what sounds like a large pearl dropped from a great height, it breaks the surface tension with a resonant nasal tock more than a splash. A lake is an inland expanse of standing water. This one is nine hundred and sixty-three metres above sea level. It is a metre deep and sheltered on three sides, from a distance at least, by what has come to be known as Wilderness. Up here, in the tent at night by an effort of will, the world’s troubles shrink from the mind’s large screen to something smaller, that glows dimly in the dark as I sleep: for the moment it features a satellite image of Russian troops – over one-hundred thousand – gathering on the border of Ukraine. Snow settles more heavily where the razed Yelnya forest has made way for lines of trucks, artillery, tanks. The impression from space is monochrome. At 6 am the rising sun sets the tent’s orange interior ablaze. Black swans are waking in the distance with dented bugle calls. Still, from time to time, the pearl falls and tocks and still the small screen flickers: young men, boys, in great-coats, cold-faced to the camera in freezing trenches. I remind myself that this is not 1914. I think of the rubble of Homs, and wonder at the satisfaction victory brings. It is not a falling pearl but a musk duck. No-one else – least of all the morning – is startled by the oddity: the black galleon of its profile, the grotesque lobe beneath its bill, the pure, surreal music of its one brief note, the spirals of waterdrops from wingbeats. Nearly two and a half thousand years ago Thucydides wrote: It is a common mistake in going to war to begin at the wrong end, to act first and wait for disaster to discuss the matter. Despite the vagaries of good and evil the imagination insists on connections – with the Ukrainian soldiers, for example, the Russian soldiers, the Ukrainian people. Mirror-like, on its ancient glacial plateau, the lake is non-partisan in its view of civilisations. Mayflies are hatching on its surface for their single day of life. Sarah Day Sarah Day’s latest books, Tempo and Towards Light (Puncher & Wattmann, 2015, 2018), were shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s and Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards. More by Sarah Day › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202312 September 2023 · Poetry Poetry | Games Heather Taylor-Johnson Days pinch and lately I’ve noticed every time I look in the mirror I’m squinting—maybe it’s a grimace. Without trying I’ve mastered the façade of a Besser block threatened by a mallet, by which I mean maybe the world won’t kill me but it’ll definitely hurt and I’ve got to be ready. First published in Overland Issue 228 31 August 20236 September 2023 · Poetry Verbing the apocalypse: Alison Croggon’s Rilke Josie/Jocelyn Suzanne ‘This again?’ and ‘why now? Why not years ago?’ are the two questions raised in each new translation of a non-English piece of Western Canon. There’s an understanding—of course a poetic cycle like the Duino Elegies is incomplete in English, there are endless new readings—and a simultaneous sense of wounded pride/suspicion: what was missing the last time around? What were you concealing from me? What are you concealing now?