In the Beginning

A common workshop exercise is to offer a painting, photograph or sculpture and invite the participant to create a piece of writing around the image portrayed. This poem is based on a painting in the National Gallery of Victoria.

Occasionally a poem cannot exist in its own right. The last line of this poem seems obscure when the poem is read alone, but, as part of a sequence on the colonisation of Australia, the line begins to make sense. There is an element of ambiguity about the line and that is not unintentional. But, then again, the painting has a certain ambiguity about it as well, and also reflects just part of the sequential history of Australia.

 In the Beginning

From the painting “Family Group with Cottage and Horse Drawn Carriage” – T. W. McAlpine

In this Arcadia
We swim in the clear stream waters
As the soil bears fruit
And the sun, dappled, flows into the clearings.

As the axe falls
The silence is lofty, vaulted by branches.
The first echoes ever heard
Reverberate.

This is the first fire,
The first warmth of the living being.
A light wind fans the grasping
Holocaust.

© Martin Porter 2010

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