March 2019

Back to Issue 5

Sidney Nolan’s Emu

By Philip Neilsen

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