It’s eight years since I left Australia full-time to explore beyond these shark-bitten frontiers. At that time I was empty of stories and exhausted with the thin pickings of a suburban existence on a land that cried out for … what?
I’d been living in the Aussie bush for five years and seen snakes, whales, sharks, goanna, the wattle in fresh bloom and the gentle traces of this land’s people – in rock art, in story and in the bitten-at faces of my small town, wracked with suicide and lanced with fence posts as it was.
Since then I’ve been on a walkabout, I suppose. Shedding off and gathering stories. Peeling away bark and letting buds compose themselves.
I came back to an Australia where the headline of the major newspaper explained that Australia rhymes with Failure – and I felt a surge of love and compassion for the people here that pitched into a perfect, curving wave. If only… if only Australians knew, or remembered, the beauty, the dignity, the wonder of themselves and this powerful land!
It’s one thing to take a quest, to potter off into the world or the wild or the unknown for a while; it’s another to bring back something worthwhile – something to offer, and which the people can recognise and receive.
I knew coming ‘home’ would be tougher than leaving. Require more honesty and more humility than it took to turn up in the world and take a place among strangers – the missfits, the inspired, the beautiful, the lost, the visionaries and thieves.
I hope to be able to find some gold in my pockets and to hold it to the Australian light so it might glitter there, in ways that might bring new things to show themselves to me and to others.
But before that, and having somehow chosen to land under the Southern Cross at the dawn of winter, there has been a welcome to country both fierce and dainty – which is, I understand at last – the essence of the place.
I wrote this about a week after landing. In about a minute on Skype to a friend. I was in the burbs of Perth after almost 10 months in Bali. My morning view of a lotus blooming its head off outside the kitchen window was suddenly replaced by an infinity of thin sky and red brick. It was the furthest I’d been from a wild environment since 2008 and I was still struggling with the speed of my transition.
rapidly she withersin the unstoried air.her net cast widein the halogen voidcatches only the brittle echoof a longago wild,and the frigid shellsof raindropsempty of delightfor their fallonto concreteand synthetic grassand wheely bins.the lotus closes backinto its own seed.without mudit dares not exhalenor snuggle downto rest.but withdrawsto a bunker,for shelterand not yetfor becoming.