The Wrong Amazon

Talking with the delivery guy
about farming
He smells of cigarettes
I want to tell him
to stop smoking
But I don’t
I listen and find out
His was a farming family
Hard life
Father told him
Don’t be a farmer
So he’s a delivery person




Thinking about land
every day
The destruction
of Mother Earth
Thousands of hectares
every day
deforested in Australia
Trees cut down
Amazon burning
As one youth activist
quipped on a poster
The wrong Amazon is burning

I don’t even know
what a hectare is
I have never lived
on a farm
I have lived
in cities and towns
on six continents

Hiking in the bush
just outside town
I see parched earth
Erosion
like the deep cut
on my arm
But the cut was
sewed up
closed up
Now healed
Leaving only a slightly
pink and purple scar




How to heal the earth?
Some farmers know how
The earth can be renewed
But forcing the land
to yield immediate results
leads to
long-term destruction
Farmers becoming
delivery people







The Ramp


Rounding a corner

from a gallery exhibition

Walking up a ramp

with no destination

Black tiled floor

Grey cement walls

Polished silver handrails

Blinking white floor lights

Triangular window

looking down on fern palms

in a secret garden below

No paintings or people visible

in the crowded museum

Silence

only my own footsteps

and the distant click clack

of someone’s high heels

Compulsion

I never think of

my  city

my country

As if I own it

I think

I’m here, now

When asked

 Where are you from?

I answer

wherever I’m currently living

– Narrabundah (Australia)

– Nairobi (Kenya)

 No, but where are you really from?

As if that will “place” me

confine me

describe me

 Do I detect a U.S. accent?

 Where are you from in the U.S.?

My (unspoken) reply:

 How much time do you have?

 Do you really want to know my life story?

 All the places I’ve lived and worked

 Is this my identity?

Unseen people

At the Gallery

Paintings by Kate Stevens: Scenes from an Afternoon

Gorham Art Centre Canberra, Australia

IMG_3410.JPG Landscape

Sweeping landscapes

on small canvases

Heavy oil paint

applied in thick daubs

Foreground mauve

purplish colour

Distance implied by

yellow fields

massed green trees

Big sky

light light blue

 

Just when I’m getting bored

seeing similar landscapes

the same colours

over and over again

I step away

and am captured

 

Australian pastoral landscapes

not my favourite

and yet the

sweep

space

colours of

rippling land

low rising hills

attract

 

Quietly appealing

limited colour palette

mauve

yellow

dark grey green

light blue sky

hint of fencing

daubs of black

cows with white face

Inhabited land

controlled by unseen people

IMG_3405 landscape.JPG