Type
Poetry

At Wentworth Falls

I followed Darwin’s Walk again this evening
            to the falls,
from the ridgetop’s open forest,
			contouring
		around the furrowed boughs of black ash
	and the smooth pale stands
		of peppermint and blue gum flaking
	over banksia, mountain devil and waratah:
			zigzagging

				down to the over-
				cliff track where
		clumps of button grass
	and a holly-like grevillea blooms
		among the sedges of hanging swamps,
	soils like peat collecting
		along shales and sandstones,
	the sponged seepage zones
		of a fernery’s rare collection:

			along to the lookout at the falls:

a bush fire haze still burnt
over the escarpment’s western rim whilst drizzle
		swirled around the communication tower
	like a halo:

the forecasted change
		heralded
to an alert line of towns
	threaded along the railway and Great Western Highway,
	the length of the Mountains’ navigable central ridge,

the shape

of a wilderness’ threatened destruction:

				from the brink
	of the lookout’s precipice, in Darwin’s grand
		amphitheatrical depression, the drama
			unfolded
	and from this podium, I counted in
		the change,
	a swirling mist pouring over
even as the volumes of smoke swept
            across the track,
		a catalyst
	like the secret stowed away on the Beagle,
		a pillar of cloud
		leading Darwin to his promised land,
	a sighting that laid bare our origins and opened eyes
				to change.

Phillip Hall is a wilderness expedition leader working with Indigenous kids to encourage school attendance and retention. He is also completing a Doctor of Creative Arts (poetry) at the University of Wollongong where he is researching the poetry of place from the perspective of postcolonialism and ecocriticism.
© Phillip Hall
Overland 205-summer 2011, p. 78–9

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Phillip Hall works in remote Indigenous education in the Northern Territory. He has recently completed a PhD with Wollongong University and his book, Sweetened in Coals, is due for publication with Ginninderra Press.

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