I tell the farmer I cannot stay, the burning log pops,
sunset breaks through blue gums, gilding his horizon
though at night, in the fluorescent-lit Airbnb there’s only
a rumbling ice box, the crack and flaw of white noise
I am sitting near hot coals, shivering, cutting onions,
peeling vegetables, picking the curry leaves for lentils
alert to micro-routine colonising wilderness wetlands,
To be or not to be, less hired, self-isolated or tested?
In the quarantine, under license, the Russian, Chinese
race to vaccinate, capitalism’s promise to bio-engineer us
drip-fed cross-border supplied, yet koalas escape smoke
only to drown in the river, marsupials are being culled
and we are sheep grazing the obscenely pillaged fields
while on television news of the lockdown in India
a cumin harvester walking barefoot, back to his village
the poor illiterate factory hands who cannot afford
to give their unspecified daughters schooling, or masks
because language and the virus is a global catastrophe.
I tell my offspring about borderless stars, slashed trees
along a ten kilometre stretch of road, hemmed by farmland
how the wallaby nibbles my hand under night’s cloak
far from glittering cities woke to injustice in the pandemic
how the hawk flies over the dunes, success in his beak,
whereas like all that is past, my residence is provisional.


"As a poet, my process embodies scrutiny over invasion" – Reflection – Michelle Cahill