Vol. 30 No. 10 · 22 May 2008

The Inversion of Simonides’ Line about the Sun

John Kinsella

154 words

Head down on the desk,
he hides tears that force
their way out, warping ink
of words he can’t read.
Isoglosses: smudges of dialect,
script across areas of page,
title deeds to land his grandfather
collated: blocks of mallee,
caprock, breakaways,
map the farm: vast cleared spaces,
fencelines, patches of scrub,
irrepressible cairns of rock
picked when paddock-making,
maintaining: each year upturning
more relic-like granite,
more history. His reality.
The teacher approaches
and he chokes on his sobbing.
The family have sent him out,
away from sheep-trails
and furrows, dry winds
and drought: a boarder, home
only on holidays, socialising
with kids his own age,
to confront a language
he neither reads nor writes.
It’s your language, they say . . .
it explains who you are,
where you come from.
Why wheat grows
in the light of day . . .
Do you feel ill? teacher
asks quietly. Yes. The sun
is never alone in the sky . . .

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