Everything I know about Australian wildlife and the bush is from my Dad.
He is a man of the land and has always loved Aussie bush poets, particularly Henry Kendall and Adam Lindsay Gordon.
This poem draws on inspiration from them plus the nostalgia I felt before coming home after years abroad, especially to hear the melodic trills of bellbirds.
I dedicate this poem to my father, Graeme.
Australia is calling.
Soon I’ll hear echoes of bellbirds falling
Down streaked blue gum bark.
Melodies and memories of home at last.
Despite time spent roving
Outside that unrivalled island,
The native flora and fauna
So wholly I evoke to mind.
From the depths of the gully,
Mossy creek ‘til the tree tops skim
Whimsical ricochets of bellbirds
Like cathartic, sonic pings.
Their decibels gently waver,
While the magpie lyrically warbles;
Willy wagtails dilly-dally on the wire fence,
The whipbird fires off exponential chords.
Ear-piercingly cicadas climax,
Madly kookaburras cackle
Egging each other louder and rowdier
In a verbal, peer-pressure kettle;
Cockatoos shriek of an afternoon
Once they’ve eaten every peach, plum and pecan;
The catbird wails a mournful tune
Once rains tempestuously outpour and move on.
On the off chance a solitary wallaby
Springs by at dusk or sometimes dawn;
Daily water dragons bask by the creek
Exalted under full sun at high noon;
Honeyeaters pollinate bottlebrush and grevillea flowers,
The Satin bowerbird furtively gathers sapphire trinkets for his bower;
And an orchestra of frogs erupts come nightfall,
Softened by the two-note serenade of the mopoke owl.
I could recite an entire index
Of rich native specifics whole,
But at present it’s the bellbirds’ echoes
For which I associate so vividly with home.
E P I L O G U E
At last I’ve laid eyes
On the environment for which a few years I’ve been deprived.
It’s all still there, overgrown and wilder,
Plus additional layers of blackbutt’s coarse trunk hair.
But, the Bell Miners have left a detrimental trail,
Of lifeless gum trees- haunting, pallid and pale.
Along the creek-line stiff, wooden souls meander-
A waxen contrast to this fertile gully of grandeur.
For you see with the balance those bellbirds do tamper-
In short letting the sap-sucking psyllids live longer.
To slowly drain the eucalypts of their vitality,
Irrespective of bark red, blue or grey- all fall casualty.
At a near distance I hear faint echoes
Of whimsical, sonic pings
From bellbirds occupying new trees-
So aurally hypnotic, though in the long-term damaging.
I study the silvery ghost gums and wonder,
Whether those that remain face their final hour?
Perhaps the roulette of the bellbirds will spare
A handful of eucalypts to spread their seed elsewhere?
The life cycle of the bush holds this duality-
To thrive, dieback then regenerate naturally.
Us humans may take a lifetime to accept our own mortality,
Unsettling ourselves with fears far from reality.
On that note be present, live now, let go of anxiety,
For open eyes see the world in all its purity,
Natural landscapes of infinite beauty.
R E L A T E D : G H O S T G U M S