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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Nov-Dec 2023.
Home Country, poem by Sarah Tiffen.
Down the long days to this Home Country.
Winter grasses risen like vellus on the shy rude thin
flesh of land, a pelt on the hills.
The vista of variegated greens, green into blue light,
and scraped and ordered soil, blooded and heavy.
Gone through the limpid, beasty, freckled days, through
rain-kissed glass, o shimmer of impressionistic light,
green, green, and blurring out to the bumped, swathing sky,
and horizon hipped and swanked with rolling.
Down the long days of earthen colours, manifold
vignettes of baroque, fur-moss soft velvets clumped with
burgundy sweeps and posies
hemmed and hewn in granite congregants,
and yea, the cattle, black and red,
poked as currants in a wide pistachio field,
attentive to the moment,
arrested in voluptuous grandeur, this agricultural palette,
this loam, this grass and all these griefs.
Gone, gone down the long days
drawing, and the pithy lemon light and gold,
labouring the harvest, head down to the verdant
wonderment of sky cupped over and adorned with
feathered smoke plumes, elegant, and ancient festive,
drive the melancholy suture to the wound.
Bespoke old markets, markers, makers, memory
and flooding, corrugated majesties
and blunt poignancy.
Here we go, and drawn like pilgrims to lamenting
days and prayers.
Down all the long days, to the Home Country,
expunging from earth and caves
the mossy, liquid spill of thought,
and mind, the body of this song, alive and
hungered, sacristy of light,
sweet, coagulated air and scents
of earth and bush and stock and mulched longing.
The great crypt of this Flat Land,
and hearts borrowings and soldered plangent joy.
Love guttural, wintered, pepper-corned vanquishment.
Gone glories, ghosts, and deep unserviced griefs
and deep resounding armaments, the battle looms.
Home Country and the risk and buffeting of
Beseech us, correlate and finding,
beseech the times, ameliorate and then baptize us,
keep us, ground us, speak through us, this
reaching, limpid eye to touch, and untouched
ancestral vagrancy and journeying, behold.
Home Country, down and down all the long
yearning years and intricately seasoned
days, halcyon, disquieting
and most solemn visions pave the way.
© Sarah Tiffen
Sarah Tiffen, author of six volumes of poetry celebrating a rural Australian sensibility and a Riverina aesthetic – deeply tied to the place where she was born, where she lives and works and where all her ancestors lie buried. Recognised by Les Murray, Donald Hall, shortlisted for the ACU Poetry Prize several times, and founder of Riverina Writing House – an independent publishing house and centre for writers and writing – Sarah’s work echoes Dylan Thomas and Seamus Heaney and Murray, evocative, spiritual, raw – she also is a mother and teacher.