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.