Academic journal article Antipodes

An Illustrated History of Settlement

Academic journal article Antipodes

An Illustrated History of Settlement

Article excerpt

after Emanuel Phillips Fox

The last thing on the crosshatched horizon

is a smudge of centuries-dead parrots

in the shining black fruit of cabbage trees.

Above it, a turbulent bluster of cloud.

There was weather. The sky boiled.

And there was water-a choppy wedge

puffed with cutters' sails.

This to introduce the idea of bay,

coastline as opening or entry.

On a far headland, two black men

stand warily; one holds up

a toothpick spear

as if to puncture the clouds' drapery.

Colorless stretch of saltgrass and sand,

middleground as featureless filler.

Closer in, a deckhand unfurls

the rose of a flag in the wind,

and two soldiers squat on a dune,

flintlocks cocked off in the distance,

their heads knotted with tidy black ribbons.

And here in the foreground, a Rubenesque swell

of redcoats tumbling over the beach

like a flock of exotic birds. …

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