Burial

Ian Gibbins

We camp beside the city line in the company
of skeletons. Between diesel and pneumatic brake,
conversations arc from lightening rod to crypt,

from treasure troves keyed with spider code to 
verdigris doubt, alibis in rows, pale confessions 
of unkempt roses and finger-stained arum lilies,

within sight of Ligurian bees, ichneumon wasps,
dragonflies, scarab beetles with never a blink,
a tear-drop, to blind cheek blush and sunsettle.

We find no records, no photographs, no faded 
thumbprint or cropmark, no Kodachrome, 
Super 8, VHS tape, hi-density video disk,

no scrawl, copperplate, no chalk on a wall
or pedestrian underpass, no fluorescent note
gathering dust behind a computer screen.

Is there a log? An automated list of errors?
Bad command syntax? A history of deleted
Photoshop layers, edits that ceased to render?

Are these the consequences of days when
coyotes break camp in Arizona deserts,
Siberian wolves retreat from solar midnight,

when a falsetto chorus, its counter-tenor call-
and-response, curdle mother’s milk, fumble, 
wishing for body armour or safety harness,

almost face-to-face with boomslang, taipan, 
queen cobra, legless annelid, apulmonate 
gastropod amongst misted mosses and lichen?

On my head, a sewing machine, kerosene 
drums, pick handles, second-hand political 
slogans; on yours, an illicit sample of paradise.

Strangely voiceless, patiently awaiting flights
of wayward wattlebirds, currawongs, cockatoos 
(sulphur crested, yellow-tailed black, red-tailed,

status uncertain), “I left too late this morning.”
With accommodation hard to get, excess council 
fees and compulsory life jackets, “It’s difficult.”

A persistent failure of earthworks, another rockfall 
along the Great Ocean Road: “Still plenty of time.” 
Wattles bloom. We detour past the hairpin bend.



Ian Gibbins is a widely published and exhibited poet, video artist and electronic musician living on unceded Kaurna land in South Australia. He has published four collections of poetry, two in collaboration with artists. His video poetry and video art have been shown to acclaim at festivals around the world and have won or been short-listed for multiple awards. Previously, Ian was an internationally recognised neuroscientist and Professor of Anatomy at Flinders University, South Australia.

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