I can still smell the Eucalyptus
Apache, the tanned horse we'd found,
had been lost from the grazing garden above the town.
We led him to our home, borrowed brushes...
Neighbourly folk came with herbs in cooking pots,
with their kindly tin wrapped remedies for wounds.
From our purple veranda
we watched him graze in the moonlight
and in the quiet of the noisy night
he must have slipped our gaze,
flicked the bolted gate
and then, again escaped!
From the telegraph poles, the owls hooted
and took flight - so we turned right
to find him on the silvery ribbon road
waiting by the forest of Eucalyptus.
You took his face, spoke his name, scolding
and stroking his nose. "He's well - he wants
company: Patch? Were you waiting for us?"
and taking his mane, you cartwheeled onto his back...
...like you should, a sound now, getting faster and lighter
into the darkening tangles and slow soft places, of our fine pine wood.
I can still smell the Eucalyptus, Part Two
They rode all night. I watched them in dreams hatched from two golden moons that had risen from the mountain, like The Golden Egg they had shared long before, in a moment of tenderness. Deep in the wood, Patch and rider stopped to drink by the side of the clearest aquamarine pool. The water was sweet ice in the dark, the wood silent except for the sound of their hot speeding breath, but, as each heart slowed, and their breath eased, shallow and rested, the pool became a lake fed by many rivers.
Dawn was just about to break, a pink dawn, and creaking down one river line, the rider saw the old barge, The Rusting Heart, filling the last moments of the night with a screeching of metal against mettle, heart against heart. The rider could do nothing except cover her ears, her heart so full; but her healing hands were tied, tied to her ears by the side of the lake. Patch heard the noise but could not look up. So soon before, Patch had been healed by herbs from the cooking pots of the kindly town folk, and not yet trusting the faculty of memory, wanted this night not to end so soon. But dawn is dawn, and the screeching and clanging of the barge sent shrapnel shards into every old wound, bringing Patch down on one knee, on two knees, hind legs buckling, and Patch fell heavy on the bank. The Rusting Heart screamed, ‘Charon comes back when Chiron has been’ and she lurched, clanged, and smashed through the waves she had created on the pond, finally slinking again out of sight as the sun rose through the pink lips of cloud rising above the wood for the trees.
When all was quiet once more, the rider took her hands from her ears and wiped the tears from her eyes. Patch lay on the grassy bank, a closed eye, and the opened wounds seeped much pain into the earthy sand. She knew time was short. The new wound at the stomach was red raw, a fatal blow unless she acted quickly, but without her herbs she had little hope. She lay her hands on the wound, put faith next to doubt, and doubt next to faith, and the heat from her hands began to evaporate the excess puss from the other seeping wounds spilling memories onto the grass.
Patch was no longer there. Patch was echo only, but looking down on the rider and her healing hands, and listening to the fallen shell of the horse�s body, Patch listened; close to death, for echo false, and echo true ; echo false, and echo true . The rider prayed her way; her hands extracting the hurt, saving the skin; extracting the hurt, saving the skin; and educating the healing spring in the nature of Patch, to font up some cover for the wound. It was to be a long, long morning...
The Golden Egg
At The Golden Egg, a cafe,
where ugly folk eat all day breakfasts,
we sip, smoke, read The Mirror,
The Sun, take notes in reams.
An old couple in bobble hats,
crater moon expressions
face their plates, each other,
over his fried slice and beans.
They slurp with all the time in the world.
I think they must be cold,
no jokes, nothing more to win.
I think it's all over - until she chokes,
dribbles on a bit of gristle
and he wipes the egg yolk from her chin.
I can still smell the Eucalyptus � Part Three
"Where is that sister of yours? She's a slippery one that one. Goes to the forest and she becomes a tree; goes to collect honey from the hives and becomes a bee; goes to her room to clean it and becomes another speck of dust for me!"
Lily looked up from her books. "I don't know Bubba. But I feel she is with Patch."
"Patch came back?"
"Lily! When you say less than three words in a sentence, I know there is a Trilogy brewing! Go find your sister � the supper can't wait for her, or that old nag, nor for this old nag neither, with so much to do! Go get your sister, the one who picks locks on bedroom windows, and becomes the wind..."
Lily smiled. Her books could wait for the quiet of the night. She tiptoed in from the veranda, put on her hat, went into the kitchen, kissed her Grandmother on her lavender cheek and was shooed away by a smile and her flowery hands, busy dipping the meat in egg for the schnitzel supper.
Lily put on her leather, turned right down the silvery ribbon road towards the barn on the corner. She knew where they would be - playing bare arsed on 'The Beach', a sandy bank of crushed calcium shells by the mouth of The Big River, deep in the heart of the wood, but it would take her far too much time to get there and back on foot. She crossed the road, picked a sprig of dandelion, clover, and holly from the path, flicked the gate, lifted the lock on the barn door, kick started her favourite skinny bike 'Dizzy', who purred like a dream, took her down into the wood, and to the river. And sure enough, there they were, her sister laying down on the sand and Patch, drinking from the gentle shoreline.
"Lily! Lily! I found Patch. Patch, it's Lily you great trumpet! How does an old nag drink quite so much! I'm starving! What's the news?"
"No news", said Lily.
Demon in the Teapot - Sing once, Pray twice.
Lift the lid
We're going down
The deep dark mine.
Sing once, pray twice,
Smoke the amber leaf:
Take a deep blue pencil
And pass the peace.
See the shaft
We're going down,
And it's dark down there.
We're going down
Stoke the fire
You have the handle
I'm on the pyre.
Approach the teapot
Don't be scared
Will be snared!
Pray twice -
Get your coat
I've got the spout
To take them by the throat.
Lift the lid
We're going down
The deep dark mine.
Sing once, pray twice,
Smoke the amber leaf,
Take a deep blue pencil,
And pass the peace.
Lily looked at her sister, face like a moon, the weight had fallen off her again and dizzy she was. "I brought you a sandwich from the kitchen." she said, and her sister grabbed it, stuffed it in her little face and went down to the gentle shoreline to give some of the lettuce to Patch. "You're welcome!" she said. It was time to let her rest a while; so she sat down, took out her endless pencil, 'Stubby', and made some notes on the calcium shell bank of The Beach.
Kobald demons of the cerulean mines explode and make trouble for miners like me. Down we go - into the mine. We walk through the clammy corridors to the entrance; the beeswax candle lantern makes the walls of the mine charcoal slate, so it sparkles, and sparkles, with silence. All is quiet except for the drip, drip, drip of melting stalactites, sheer sheet-drops of ice frame the passageway, and in the melt, tears hammer two tiny groves for the purest water conductor any candle lantern is likely to see, and step by step, drop by drop, you point to the gem filled walls: Emeralds, the eyes of cats glinting; honest Agates, tinting the walls mosaic; Rose Quarts, hearts as pink as a warm hand; Turquoise, reflecting in the water droplets, making them a clear aquamarine; and eyes down, for Gold. "Watch the gold..." I whisper. Thread lines cut through the crystal bed formed one on top of the other, river lines of time stacked against us, in dead straight lines heading deep into the heart of the mine. "Follow the Gold", I say.
"I miss the trees already" you say. I take your hand and lead you round the narrow shelf of sofa rock where pearls formed years before. You know this path is the most precarious, this is the worst part of it, knowing where we are going, but I said this time it would be Fine. If we both stick to our sticking posts, one behind in front of the other, and foil the Kolbalt demons of the cerulean mine, it would be quick; as we were heading fast into one of the deepest magical chambers of the cliff.
"So, did you write a poem?"
Lily scowled at her sister. Of course she had. Born the year of revolutions made poetry skeletons leap out of the long lost poetry cupboard like bats out of hell, pouring like white sand onto horizontal surfaces; or handed out to strangers, lost along the road; or kept in banks, prayers shot down like deer - of course she had written a poem, just as her sister had got skinny by the river looking after Patch.
But now, it was just a case of remembering the Phoenix valley, and all other poems could wait, except this one.
Kobold demons of the ailing mind
hide cerulean gems
in musty tunnels and roomy chambers.
Synapse misfire and dynamited dreams
turn soft silvery blue pencil pathways
You are 'going mad'.
I take your hand.
ashen your face.
Zombie cobalt statues creak
and come alive,
rise as spectra silhouettes
to dance again on your iris.
As they decorate the wall
and shriek like the corridor,
you say, I need a break:
I am about to paint the windows,
the blueprint, my mirror, your teapot...
So we agree to call it a day.
You go and I pick up
and edit your contribution
back to something bland,
(By the way-
I know there is a demon in the teapot
so I am still careful to leave the lid on it)
You look up. The parallel rivers more than rivulets now; streams had formed and move as if after the fast, to splash the path with hungry droplets; mouths open for an ankle, hoping for the turn of a calf, or the point of a toe, wishing for the slippery sole too busy looking up, at the beautiful gem encrusted walls. 'Ruby's Place' was coming up. "Eyes down on the Gold" I say. "We are going back in time - follow the lowest thread line, and don't look up at Ruby's face."
Ruby's place is the most incredible treasure at a point where paths open into a chamber of two overlapping circular riverbed plates, each circumference touching the central point of the other, interlocking but never static, each revolving in a waltzer ride on it's own axis spin, so, very dangerous to pass over it in the melt. Their slippery surface grinds water into oil, and oil into fire, consuming all who have dared pass in the melt, looking up in wonder at the flowering Ruby beds eating into the ceiling of the cave. Through the middle-way of the oval that the circles create, we follow the slit of Amethyst bedding that gives grip to the feet and shines like a thousand mountains. This Path is so beautiful, that tears of joy fall easily onto the amethyst peaks underfoot, and electrical currents sweep up into passing hearts. Head down at Ruby's in the flood and the rest of the journey, to one of the central magical caverns, is easy to reach, but still so difficult to arrive.
"What you doing, Lily?"
"Writing it", she said.
"What's the point of that Lily?"
"You know." Lily replied.
"But it is done, Lily! Buried" she said.
"The map isn't"
"You and your maps! We give maps out for free! Why do you want this? I don't like it. You're wanting something, Lily - and Bubba gives us everything we need! Hmm...You after beans, Miss Dizzy?"
"Shuttit, Skinny!" said Lily.
"A disguised two word sentence! You got Trilogy brewing, Missy? My guts are fine sister; Patch is well too; yesterday the doctor said the disease is all gone, and all that's left is blister. You know the central cavern I saw was filled with every war and disease there has ever been; dark lanterns made from itching human skin, our skin; the bones from ancient tribes rising up angry, sick without Hope � and all the rest of every nightmare ever been, dancing the walls of the cave. Don't be cross! I can't help but see it, but I brought you back something, something they were giving out after the flood, at Ruby�s place..."
"What's that, sis?"
"A Golden Egg. Happy Spring, sister"
"Thanks", said Lily.