Academic journal article Antipodes

Bush Strangers

Academic journal article Antipodes

Bush Strangers

Article excerpt

Women work the shoulder.

These women in orange high-vis vests

number perhaps thirty. They

are all tall, thin, and very dark.

Their darkness cuts the orange.

A remote strip of Highway 1,

B1: Australia's longest highway,

the longest national highway on Earth.

Northbound traffic halted

by a stop-sign man. I hear men earn

a lot in that line of work.

The vehicular tail trails a long

heat-marbled distance

south, to the Murray bridge

almost. Catastrophic fire danger.

Small birds fly in fellowship,

spearing and spiraling like paper

birds. Then, higher, flesh-and-blood

hawks circle, as if orbiting

the spear of newly laid asphalt.

The women appear to be working

to spot-clean flora-most of it scrub, a few ironbark-

come monsters deformed

by disease and drought and termites

and vermin-sprayed

or specked with tar, or asphalt,

or white or yellow line paint, or

the lot. They carry tools to this end: misters

of pale-blue cleaning solution,

white microfiber cloths. …

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