This button eye speaks a wry wisdom.
This stumping gait is the droll purpose
             of characterful age.

Such earth attunement! The land vibrates
to the touch of an ant's feet -
             so infinitesimal,

yet remarkably known.
Beyond human credit, this privileged knowing
             shifts to supernature.

Here is eldritch marriage with the refuge earth -
above it these phalanxed, unsubtle quills
             are enough to flummox teeth

and this tarpaper tongue is evolved clinical efficiency,
an industrial suctioner that is death
             to skimmering ants.

Echidna, the parblind, rolling sailor of the bush,
claims my love completely -
             so admirable it is, so utterly benign.

But Lempriere ate roast echidna 'stuffed with sage and onion';
it had 'all the flavour and taste of a goose'.
             And the land's first people

and the resourceful Vandiemonians -
my patrimony and my partisan loyalty -
             took it for a staple.

I open these arms of love,
unboundaried compassion
             enfolding a myriad living miracles

in endless flow, templates of perfection
turned and wrought in the fires of time,
             and sacred on that account.

Here is a universal mergence to corrupt
the specifics of my becoming, to cast in shadow
             the heroes of my lineage.

I can find no grip on time, fix no horizon.
I drift free of geneal moorings,
             my island identity all at sea...

Echidna delves, settles,
embraces the earth.
             I wait - and now echidna opens

a wise and cautious eye.
Drunk with communion
             echidna rolls

Other poems by Pete Hay

Flower Cone
Sunset on the Irish Festival
Girl Reading Lorca at the Mirador San Nicolas
The Duck's Guts

Interviews with Pete Hay

Conversations: an interview with Pete Hay and Richard Flanagan (1995)
A conversation with Pete and Anna Hay (2003)
Island to island: an interview with Pete Hay (2011)



BEACH, Eric: Weeping for Lost Babylon
DE PAOR, Louis: Goban Cre is Cloch/Sentences of Earth and Stone

Launch speeches

MATHISON, Robyn: To Be Eaten By Mice
ROBERTS, Bruce: In the Church of Latter Day Consumers
SANT, Andrew: The Islanders


Half-Time with Stout John
Port Arthur: Where Meanings Collide
What I did on my Holidays
Notes within Shadow