March 2019

Back to Issue 5

Directions to the End of the Day

By Rachael Mead

The world, the real is not an object. It is a process John Cage


Let the screen door to the shearers’ kitchen slap shut

on the stove-top’s curls of steam and, heart throbbing 

with the day’s caffeine, set your course for silence and air.  


With conversation at your back, take the dirt road 

to the windmill, then turn toward the hard edge of winter 

letting the south wind muscle through your clothes.


The country roars, air pushing itself into your ears 

so let the wind snarl in the trap of your hair and pull 

your thoughts home from their adventures. Remember,


the opposite of attention isn’t distraction, it’s neglect.

In this grainy hour it all becomes clear – this place asks

for both hardness and humility. Push yourself uphill, i


cheekbones slicing the cold, past beards of lichen and litterings

of scats, breath huffing in round vowels and feet beating the need 

for space into red dust. Life may be short, but desire? Desire is long.


Keep moving but stay in the heart of your own sound –

the swoosh of jean and jacket, the clomp of boot on rock, 

the heartbeat rhythm of your limp. Trust the wisdom of goats


until you struggle up out of shadow onto the hill’s spine, 

emptiness unfolding in all directions. As the low sun 

pours great sheaves of light across the range, breathe 


and when you feel the boundary between your skin 

and the world begin to blur, let your heart inhale.

Rest. You’ve earned it, your voice a drift of pollen. 


Feel the layers in the rock beneath your feet, this mass

of stone that underpins us all creating its own rules

of geometry and beauty. Read the land’s thirsty script, 


the piles of strata built and broken over aeons 

hold an ancient narrative that tells of everything 

that’s laid bare and all that endures unseen. 


You are now in the cradle of surplus light and rising dark,

this hillside a ghost of the one you climbed

so set your compass for the campfire’s nebula. 


There’s nothing to fear. The night is a clean darkness 

under a shatter of stars, their light racing to you for millennia 

in a loneliness that seems delightfully soundproof. 


But it’s time to move out of this silence that’s the blend

of all the quiet species breathing and slip back 

into your public skin. Find your place by the fire, 


and as the ancients slip their ghosts into the gloves 

of your fingers, watch the greyhound

go softly on her way and not look back.