Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 25 
by Judith Beveridge
I am happy to live with them, though they pre-date us;
the ones with bruised eyes and an outback look,
in their fur, grey dust and red rock,
in their teeth the stains of grasses,
in their stride the long legs of miles –
and to see in their barely weathered skulls, their ancestors
who crouched on the plains at dusk.
But sometimes looking at them, there is a feature
not accountable to time or habitat: a vague link
to a lost continent.
This country of old holes, graves, tree-stumps,
of tribal animals double-mothering their young;
seed-gatherers of equal work, free but naturally domestic,
not bondservants to the taste of blood or work of seasons;
of creatures who live their simple culture in a soil
that can shut down for summers against the simplest root.
Beside them, I feel like a new animal unlicked at birth
scratching for fosterage in a place
transplanted like top-soil from Europe full
of service animals. Ground can shift
and leave species to start up again.
But the Earth evolves its creatures: whatever
its conditions we adapt, match our landscapes.
So I see them, sleepy and relaxed
in the eucalyptus dens of our continent,
or wandering the yellow bush at evening,
carrying young in the warm swags of their wombs,
loving the land; itinerant, but placed.
I envy them their hippie-lives, these marsupials,
the alternative animals, doped on leaves,
happy to retire on the oldest landmass.
this queer evolution won, the long arbitration
with Nature in the courts of Gondwanaland.
Photo: Ray Mjadwesch
Photo: Andras Berkes-Brandl
One of the most distinguished and awarded of contemporary Australian poets, Judith Beveridge (b. 1956) has published five full collections of her work – The Domesticity of Giraffes (1987), Accidental Grace (1996), Wolf Notes (2003), Storm and Honey (2009), and Devadatta’s Poems (2014) – and, in the United States, a selected poems, Hook and Eye (2014). She teaches at the University of Sydney.
'Marsupial' is from The Domesticity of Giraffes.