The locals sit round the boab tree
with beef and beer and electric music
they watch the day fall into the horizon.
Along the road are worn shoes and wrecked cars
and the sites of ancient miracles
reseen with damaged eyes.
Ranger Dan has gotten too close to the sun
his face is burnt and blistered
he has lost pieces of ear and nose.
He roams the Great Sandy Desert in his Toyota
searching for minerals and shade
retracing his own dim beginning in the landscape.
Donkeyman picks up a rusty pipe
that leans against the boab
blows into it like a tuba.
The song of an animal’s body and soul being born
is itself born from the pipe
as clouds stretch and hunch into goannas and emus.
Etched in the walls of skulls
the geography of lumpy hills and murky waterholes
reveals ancestral footprints.
Ranger Dan’s map gets more crowded year by year it fills with useful details is a work in progress.
Muntja sighs with all her weight
slaps a tired hand down on her painting
which is a map of a story.
The other old women laugh
their flat breasts shake to the tale of a gang of women
who raped and dismembered a trespassing man.
Ranger Dan has dug so deep in visceral ore
his nose bleeds so deep his ears ache
so deep he dreams the orange earth.
Donkeyman says the termites are hard at work
their spiky red towers are moist and musical
their journeys were written by the ancestors too.
Michael Pearce’s poetry has appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Yale Review, Nimrod, The Sun, Spillway, and elsewhere, and has won several national prizes (New Ohio Review, Oberon, Dogwood, and others). His collection of poems, Santa Lucia by Starlight, won the Brighthorse Prize.