Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,
I found a track of sorts, when, sudden as Doomsday, The earth before history had me entire –

A gully, intact since the morning of Creation,
Where grey-gum and wattle hung their leaves in the sun
And fresh-coined heath-bells. But the branching silence
Was felled by my axe, like the stroke of a gun.

A wallaby, shocked from his timeless siesta
(A hundred thousand years ago he lay down to sleep)
Fled between the trees like the ghost of a people
From the loud invader, the steel biting deep.

But I was not alone, for the bush birds gathered
Indignant yet curious, was I foe or friend?
With eye-glint and wing-flash they watched, without doubting
That nesting and singing are world-without-end,

And so resumed their song, born somewhere in the beginning
Of the world, out of stuff time can tear but not destroy,
Born when the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy.

Richard’s choice

Poems of Nature