Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Was that you crocodile?

18 September 2013

Fogg Dam is a place once someone thought it was a good idea to grow rice. The magpie geese clapped their feathery wings, that was the best idea they had heard in eons. They flocked in their thousands to the free food thoughtfully provided by rice farmers. That was the beginning of war, Man v Geese. Men had the fire power but geese had the numbers and although men stood shoulder to shoulder shooting all day (so said the guide at Beatrice Hill) still the geese came wave after wave. It was the avian version of the Zulu war and it wasn’t long before the vanquished packed up their rifles and left the birds to it. This is Northern Territory history or maybe that should be birdstory….just sixty five years ago.
A sign marks the irrigation channel but I imagine that not that many wet seasons of geological time will see the scar dissolve into the landscape, some cross hatchings have already gone.
There is a crocodile in the dam a sort of reverse of the Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry ‘Little Prince’, that somewhere in the desert hides a well…. somewhere in paradise hides a crocodile. There must surely be more than one ,oh yes of course, but this one is big, really big. It doesn’t pay to be big, really big. A trap is set. A cormorant dries its wings, a cruciform on the top of the trap making the trap some sort of holy place but the big croc won’t be lured and hasn’t been caught yet.

We spot all the ibises straw neck, sacred, and glossy, egrets — their necks go on and on, brolgas —a little shy, comb crested jacana —the lily leaf walker, a harrier probably swamp, mobs and mobs of pygmy geese, willy wag tail and mudlarks — speaking the same language right across Australia, cormorants large and small, kingfishers — looking out on power lines, corellas and always kites.

Before sunset the lotus provided bright spots to the landscape, fat buds the colour of young nipples looked as if they were going to burst into something substantial but when they bloomed they were soft and as light as spider’s webs and lifted in every breeze. When they fell they floated, became pink boats on pink water as the sunset.
The dead leaves of the lotus rattled. Was that you crocodile?

And my sky-porn from the night Visit to see more Territory sky-porn.

Thanks to Kaye Aldenhoven for giving so generously of her time and the divine evening watching birds and another Territory sunset.

Thanks to Amanda Joy for the cormorant and the cruciform. Check her poetry chapbook here

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