Venie Environmental Poetry Prize

Nature is a Misreading by Michael Farrell

It’s 10am. He’s already talked to the birds and flowers
If to be human is to be baroque, he would like to feel
more involved, or more complex. Originality is
concerned with origins he believes. But no one knows
what came before language, or before language became
a way of talking about things beyond itself. He’s bored
with hunting. He wants to explain to someone about
fences and water, about joining as separation. She wants
them to act out the scene of the sea, its fields of endless
sunflowers. There’s blood already on the flame trees and
waratahs. If it means anything it’s to do with time. All
face the sea. Our homemade tarts cool on a rock ledge

A small spaceship appears in the sky like a placebo for
thinking. We’ve had no bites for ages, though we
ourselves eat readily. And while attentive to our
surroundings, not having been in this part of the country
before, all our remarks tend to the literary. Little books
sprout from our lips like flowers in a surrealist painting
Goannas flow upwards and across our communal vision
like r’n’b heroines. Is that literary? Regularly, I might as
well admit, I go up to the house to check for messages.
But each time Oliver, our kelpie, preempts me from the
verandah: nothing, he barks rapidly, nothing. Regularly
I assume, it’s easier if your life is busier. There’s no one

in town who can do the things he wants done, so he
learns to do it himself or goes someplace bigger. On the
train in the seats in front of him people are reading
books with titles likes Trees Are Shady Aren’t They? and
My Heart Wants To Jump Like A Kangaroo. The driver’s
accent makes Rockville station sound like Wreckville

Everything’s already ruined, he thinks of his own speech
and of new inventions as kinds of amalgam. He represses
the word ‘nature’. He’s glad he lives where his whole
culture is an ethical conundrum, but as Molly says, is
life anything else? Are trees shady? he asks his nephew
experimentally. Does the heart ever jump like a

kangaroo? Blahblahblah says his nephew, do you even
care? He draws a picture of Jesus with a crown of bees
Later, he will form a band. Nothing resonates, Molly
says regularly, with regards to the floor. Falling asleep
her favourite book also falling. A priest disguised as a
yoga instructor tells her, find a hole, live in it. The
bullfrogs grow louder as he speaks. Cricket season is
coming on. Tennis season is coming on. There are
drawbacks to a rural education: it can turn your
sympathy in the wrong direction. If blackberries now
taste like Latin or rust or bit-coin, perhaps today’s kids
will still eventually, be nostalgic for them anyway


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More Winning Poems

‘Carried from Hell’s Gate, Tasmania’ by Kerry Greer

Pushing empty packets into the bin, I see the whales, on the news, 470 of them lying haphazardly like precious flotsam a child might find, washed up in Macquarie Harbour. 470 seems closer to an evacuation than an accident. Sometimes, as a girl, swimming out so far there was no sand within reach of my

Read More »

Saving Angelthe by Meg Mooney

I pick my way around dry grass, cow pats, prickles it’s hot and this is not pretty country we pass a huge coolabah sprays of new leaves lit like emerald glass this tree and my friend remember when people walked this country held landmarks like this in their minds nearby she finds a bush banana

Read More »

Carving the Golem by Kristen Lang

The stone knows at heart, of the microbes tucked into its grains, that they too are stone, like the trees, like the flatworms. The birds are the shards of its wind-caught self. For aeons it has leaned into the act of speaking – earthquake and avalanche, bark and hiss and roar. In the silk of

Read More »
Scroll to Top