Carnaby’s cockatoos at New Norcia

The Moore or Maura River flows
steadily and filmically over the ford;
in twisted roots of melaleuca
working green water with its platelets
and clots of algae broken up in quasi-rapids,
the conflicted smoothness of roots that ghost
and trap human imagination before the dry
empties the river, takes moisture deep below
the bed, pools quivering with heatwaves;
there a rat stirs against daylight, and the shimmer
of water bifurcating and recollecting,
flycatchers frantic where water appears
to slow - delusion - and insects skitter
up and out; to sketch this as a blur
of interdependent colour, to skip outlines
or signs of echo in water feeding out
(a gilgie aerating?), twists music
to silence, a monastic bell
ringing time from its tower,
and Carnaby's cockatoos traumatised
by a lack of nesting sites, lack of familiar
aerial photographs, drop flocks to three or four
and break out where there is less familiar land,
another name to be strung onto, songs
lampooning their own productions
(stereos in utes fitted with spotties,
stereos syncopating the rough and the smooth),
where a road once cut through from monastery
to Wyening, outpost forty kilometres away
and now a track of dead-ends, though water
still flows when it falls away, and the coast
calls inland inland, wanting all liquid
even lead melted for slugs left in cockatoos.
Just sketch the river, the tormented roots
of paperbarks, gnarled bolls of flooded gums
with their outbursts, insects working hard
amidst the nitrogenous, the oily, the Maura.

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