Hectic Red

John Kinsella

Quartz sparks randomly
on the pink and white crust
of the salt flats, spread out
beyond the landing,
where bags of grain –
wheat and oats
in plastic and hessian –
lips sewn shut,
packed tight, flexing dust
and dragging their feet
to the edge, are tipped
onto the truck – feed-
grain, filling out
the flattop, another body sack
waiting to be fed,
from top to bottom,
the sheep hollow-gutted
in the long dry, green-feed
deficient and this
the diminishing stock
of back-up tucker;
the best paddocks
up beyond the salt
all hoofed and bitten,
stray tufts targeted
and levelled,
dry roots crumbling
and dropping to dried-out
stream-beds beneath,
so no new encrustations
of salt emerge back down
in the low places, just the old crust,
pinking off – at night,
the crazy pick-ups
spinning wheels
and throwing headlights,
the bonnets rising and falling
in choppy waves, the light
as unstable as a camera
and the darkness dropping in
like black sacking; bleak rabbits
dashing about,
their blood infra,
the forecast – hectic red.