after Fiona Hall’s ‘Folly for Mrs Macquarie’
The axe, the dagger, the scythe:
to cleave, to cut, to end.
Wire and bones:
division and death.
The pines on the island:
brittle, abandoned.
What, then, of this?
Pleasure, uselessness –
A road that leads to the sea.
A shelf of rock for a chair.
It’s said I keep a mean table.
I wake up hungry. I know one day
we will leave. We shall not return.
I count out coins with eyes cut into them.
On some nights, when the wind
blows from the south, I weep.
He lies next to me, turned away.
I lost her, as he lost the first Jane.
I hear the pipers in my sleep,
piping out the forgotten and
the unnamed. Child after child
after child – failing to take root,
like these crops. So much water
and no rain. We build churches,
barracks, stables, wide verandahs…
To what end? This house,
these gardens, this land:
our dream, and our folly.