after Sidney Nolan’s ‘The Emu Hunt’
It looks back, no longer afraid
of the spindly man or his side-saddle bride,
the golden bones of their rifles.
By birthright closer to this orange-tan earth
than the floating prance of the horse,
the emu is escaping something
heavy and hunched just outside the frame.
A dust rumour of the end-drought?
In seconds it will reach the tree of knowledge
blossomed by two sentinel parrots
and be received by this candlestick plant of Eden
which has wandered in artistic ecstasy
through the backblocks of western Queensland
to split the bedrock of nothing changes.
Painting: The Emu Hunt