Iambic Images 32 - Canoe Tree

Canoe Tree - Currency Creek

About 8km from Goolwa, South Australia, near the turn-off to Milang.

Aborigines constructed canoes by taking a huge piece of wood from the trunk of a tree, using axes made from sharpened stone. They made sure they did not ringbark the tree, so it didn't die. There are still many examples of "Canoe Trees" along riverbanks in Australia.

At the base of the tree vandals some years ago ringbarked the tree and it is now dead.

Death of a Tree

An historic 300-year-old tree from which an Aboriginal canoe

was once carved at Currency Creek near Goolwa south of Adelaide,

has been given little chance of survival after being ring barked.

‘ . . . and here the old tree stood

for how many thousand years? that old gnome-tree

some axe-new boy cut down.’

Judith Wright

The car’s flight shakes the old road into light;

films the air with dust. A sole

grasshopper climbs a blade of grass:

will not shift. Always presage of a plague.

Morning turns on the counterpoint

of destruction and repair: but nothing

will soften the hour to come for this.

The latent axe that spun a rough cut

circle into soft green bark: where

life has slipped in the transpiration

of three hundred unbroken seasons.

Now sap has stopped and leaves-

blue blush of tender growth will find

their long relationship with the once kind sun

a new and first adversary.

Death stalks the hot and blunted hour

sharp with the oil-wet volatility

of fresh cut wood. For every tree

there is this final reckoning: what is

lost and gone falls out of balance

with the grasp and force and push of life.

The hands and blade are gone - stowed

in the secret compartment of a moment

that is almost impossible to rehearse

and apprehend nor understand. All that is left

behind - this cipher of ugly fingerprints

that evidence and convict the eerie second

that stretches into grey meaningless

and profound silence. These scars

of loathing and of carnage history has heard

before. The numb ends of horror here

the mute and spinning day can’t stop.

Jeff Guess

©Jeff Guess 2017

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