Samothraki, Greece
I’m not sure if I’m following a trail
left by goats or on the human path
as I attempt to circumvent the farmstead
where, the last time I came near, a dog
pursued me, snapping and snarling. Noticing
the piles of rusting junk dispersed around
the place I wonder whether there’s a law
requiring that at least one crackpot live
in each secluded region on the planet;
as if these thoughts had given them their cue
two dogs begin to howl. This circumstance—
embracing pungent wafts of goat shit—stirs
somehow recurrent doubts about the art
of poetry, its prospects in our time
and apprehensions personal in nature...


Traversing the hip of the mountain, still unsure if I’m on the path
but no longer caring
	      I bend under the low branch of a sycamore
			                   enter a clearing of green and rusty ferns
	      when a call like a foghorn sounds directly above
			                Arp, uup
	      Lifting my head I see two black birds with wings outstretched
	           arcing more smoothly than figure skaters
		            away from then towards each other
	            Their fingers almost touch as they pass
					                     and arc out again
	             I follow the fluent sequences
		           in the impromptu choreography
	             the transformation of lemniscates
		             they draw on bright blue paper
	             leaving an even lighter trace
			             than the fine inscription
		            of blades in ice
		       At regular intervals, arp, arp
		           the same bird gently repeats
		       as if to say, take notice, this is important
	            though I doubt the utterance is aimed at me...


While wishing I could have observed them longer
and had taken fewer notes
		              they return, now from the west
    No, this pair is fairer
          and converses in meow-like squeals
though they arc as smoothly as the black birds
		                Joined by a third
           they easily wind their way
		                high over the valley
			                 whistling in alternation
And I wonder, after all, if it’s not possible
          to speak winged words
	            to converse, if only with a few
			               that far above the valley


After following another goat trail
	         I scramble over rocks to glimpse a waterfall
            and losing the way back
	           descend the hillside with the path in sight
		              and I’m not making this up
			              or sure what it means
but the first pair of birds return from behind the mountain
          dart over my head and down into the valley
	          They’re talking to each other now and take turns
		          to flip upside down, flash their breasts to the sky
		          and far swifter than stunt planes
		          flip over again...

Malcolm Robertson Foundation logo The Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets is made possible by the support of the Malcolm Robertson Foundation.

Luke Fischer

Luke Fischer is the winner of the 2012 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets. His poems have appeared in Antipodes, Cordite, ISLE, Mascara, Meanjin, Snorkel, and Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology. He has held academic positions in the US and Germany, and in 2008 received a PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney. He is currently completing his first collection of poems.

More by Luke Fischer ›

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