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Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 46 [55]

Kangaroos in torchlight

Photo: Uli Krahn

by John Kinsella

Stillness makes you shiver inside, skin

unmoving; there is no part of our biographies

feeding the torchlight, only the kangaroos

trying to look gently past the flickering beam

at what’s moving, what makes light out

of darkness; they don’t get to select

their deaths and call it ‘madness’ or ‘okay,

I took the risk’, they just try

to stay out of its reach. In this

is the only immense spirituality

I believe, walking the long road

up the hill to close the gate, to close

in and protect what I’d like to think they

pass over, like our oversubscription

to the soul’s persistence, or that some

memory will stick to rocks and soil,

stay close and bear light that seals

a nightworld in place, that we might absolve

the shaky clinginess of gravity: rather, all

imagined is partial indifference

of kangaroos by torchlight, stilled

to graze the dead grass of Elysian Fields

where nothing can die again, and few

will head back to that overwhelming light

that weighs so heavily on the living.


from Jam tree gully: poems (New York W.W. Norton &​ Co., 2012)

John Kinsella's most recent volumes of poetry are On the Outskirts (UQP, 2017), Firebreaks (WW Norton, 2016), Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems 1980-2015 (Picador, 2016) and the three volume edition of his Graphology Poems 1995-2015 (Five Islands Press, 2016). His volumes of stories include In the Shade of the Shady Tree (Ohio University Press, 2012), Crow's Breath (Transit Lounge, 2015) and Old Growth (Transit Lounge, 2017). His volumes of criticism include Activist Poetics: Anarchy in the Avon Valley (Liverpool University Press, 2010) and Polysituatedness (Manchester University Press, 2017). He is Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University. With Tracy Ryan he is the co-editor of The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry (2017).

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