In The Church of the Allambee Valley
by James Walton

There is no balm for the yearning of eucalypts,
candlebarks stretch up this vaulted wanting
dahlias splash an insane chant over a paddock
a calf nods and backs into a startled wander,
one day she might raspily lick the mystery of my supplicant salty palm.

The kunzea shakes its head at the darting thoughts of ransacking      honeyeaters;
galaxies of shining filaments catch their own suns
striped feathers and silver eyes are lavish ideas with nowhere to go.
In winter a faltering hand of snow,
sticks a gentle finger in my eye stopping the risk of pride.

The chalice Ash joins no offering of passage,
the canoe drifts from tree shape misleading entry
hands worked free an illusion of transit,
pushing into the promise finding
hardwood bars all ways against the bubbling rainbow.

At my pew in the white gum I am an uneventful and regular event.
A shrieking squall of red and green blue yellow veers –
leadlight to frame the river noise below holding
at anchor in shards of haphazard reflection,
memories slipping through my hands to their own lives.

My prayer, more like the old family dog sitting alert in the herb garden,
each working day at the same hour
listening for the school bus,
panting for the children who no longer arrive
but never doubting the shadowy promise.

PHOTO: “Ghost Gums” (Australia) by James Walton.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Walton is from the Strzelecki Mountains in far South Gippsland — the last step off the Australian mainland before Antarctica. His work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. He was shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize in 2013, and Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition 2014.