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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 3, September 2018
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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, ACT, Australia


Dickson Deserted

When I woke, the town spoke.
                         —Dylan Thomas

It's not just the town, the manmade part. It's the Limestone Plains and the rim of hills. The Brindabella Ranges on the western skyline. And the Queanbeyan Fault scarp, the eastern skyline, where the writing group is today.

those soft curves
enticing me . . .
the outline
of a grassy hillslope
against the pale blue sky

It's now my history. Forty years I've lived here, more than half my life. It's the longest I've lived anywhere. Have I put down roots? No more wandering? Well, short bursts perhaps.

grey skies
over Tuggeranong . . .
how time stretches
for teenagers
in extensive grasslands

Why does the town continually change? I went back to my childhood home in London last year, where the streetscape is still the same after fifty years. But here in Canberra it changes weekly. Old cottages are bulldozed to make way for new McMansions. Ancient trees are demolished. It seems that nothing is permanent.

bunkered down
in a concrete bus shelter
with cobwebs
and broken windows—
the bus flashes past me

When I'm away what I miss most are the bike paths. Whizzing downhill on a bike, forever nine years old. Coming back from a trip, arriving at the airport or the railway station, I sniff the grass-scented air, squint at the clear blue sky. And the taxi driver says, "No, mate, there hasn’t been any rain!"

buses run
once an hour in the suburbs
teaching us
to wait with patience
humility and grace

How often the fog rolls in, like yesterday at dawn. And the lake gets into its Celtic mood. I wrap up in scarf and gloves and walk around it. That grey mystery of water.

out of the mist
looms the hilltop . . .
pale ghosts
of kangaroos . . .
brightness of rosellas

At this time of year I sense the quickening of the earth. It's still cold, but the bulbs are pushing through and trees starting to blossom. Frosty August mornings with the air tingling like champagne.

our suburb glows
in morning light . . .
suits with smartphones
cyclists stretching
mums chatting . . . at Beess & Co

In December, I'm walking up the hill with sticky flies; yellow grasses are waving in the breeze and cicadas shrilling. Then the blessed easterly comes in after a hot day. And those soft nights of January with Orion high and the wavering Pleiades.

late summer
bakes the Limestone Plains
grass seeds
stick to my socks
thistles scratch my ankles

And then autumn: the days of the golden light. Cockatoos squawk, and it's raining acorns. I stroll the streets, scuffling through pin oak leaves of red and brown. And the king parrots return to the town, gorgeous in red and green.

sinking
into this moment
embedded
in Canberra's April—
who will dig me out?

The Scorpion is overhead in the crisp nights of winter. The Southern Cross is high and bright Jupiter rising. I wander out into the park late, enjoying that suburban freedom. That emptiness.

Dickson deserted . . .
only the ATMs
are open . . .
but who needs cash
on a cold dark night?

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