March 2021

Back to Issue 9

The old track signs: “Lake Holmes”

By Pam Schindler

     Overland Track, Tasmania


Lake Holmes, this one says,

with three nails marching down

through the middle of each word



each letter edged

with a small fog of weathering

of frayed silver wood –

two English words posted

to stand watch here,

by this tannin-dark lake

through the wind and snow,

the brilliant light –

since someone decided that Holmes

was worthy of a lake.


Lichen has flowered 

over the crossbeam of the H

while the S, angular, jerks

through thirty years of growth-rings,

the chisel awkward at the curves;

and here it hints

at the hands we cannot know

the ranger who cut it

some flickering evening

from a board of mountain pine


but to know its old name

is beyond our listening


and before that?  A presence

of darkness and silver, nameless

dip in the moraine,

a pool for the wind’s shaping.