September 2017

Back to Issue 2

Sheep Graziers’ Alert

By Isi Unikowski


Frost has laid its nightly siege engine: 

the protea’s bronze chevrons brushed upwards 

like a raptor’s feathers

washing poised in awkward corrugations

stiff and steaming beneath the hoist; 

a fernery stencilled in salt over the windscreen 

lace fans dropped where the glass table fades

into the air’s silver corridor. 


Across the southern tablelands, farmers are doing 

what they need to, and can, whatever it is that they do 

when they’re summoned:

move ewes and lambs, I suppose, spread feed,  

hold off shearing…I don’t know, although 

a half hour’s drive from here would take me 

into a formal setting of white damask, fences

sage as gnomons on a moon-dial’s marble. 


Heater on full, I would stare at the distant, caped figures 

intent on something beside their bright, green tractors 

that are all the greener for the bleached slopes on which they stand  

confident of bales and churns,

cattle sprayed like ink across the parchment paddocks; 

and think of other, more distant hills, 

people bleached from history, thirsty 

for procedures amongst the rocks.