Academic journal article Antipodes

Managing the Mountain

Academic journal article Antipodes

Managing the Mountain

Article excerpt

There are many different kinds of maps:

sketch, contour, cadastral, photogrammetric,

and then there are those of the heart,

impossible to draw with pen and ink, navigable

only by love and memory.

When you speak of tracks and how to halt

their braiding, I imagine all the creatures

that creep, crawl, hop, slink, scurry

this mountain, and what came before:

sponges, bivalves, snails starring a sea floor,

shellfish fanning sand, seedferns and rushes

rustling the margins of swamp and stream,

one giving way to the next, tiny tracks

of sea creatures, sand-crawlers, river-dwellers.

Now its humans crossing talus slopes,

scree, shale, gravel, gulley-mud, where

manferns tower, their elongated trunks

giant as giraffe necks, then up into the drier

dirt of eucalpyt forest and out into the scrubby

boulder-fields and the soft alpine-sink

where bootprints haunt sphagnum.

Once people burnt and hunted in barefoot quiet.

Europeans followed them, the French recording

ranges in flames. Darwin climbed,

before his travels illuminated the world

and re-cast all creation stories.

He found flint, slate, sandstone,

greenstone, the beginning of things

bubbling in him like molten rock.

Today, tracks and trails wind and layer

like a shawl of beads, familiar as worry beads,

Fern-giade, Zig-zag, Ice-House,

Big-Bend, Lost World, Organ Pipes,

and the jet glow of connecting beads

or islands on maps, tiny as pardalote eggs:

Sphinx Rock, Octopus Tree, Potato Fields. …

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