Colony Collapse (2019)

“I am still watching ghosts, eyes rimed with salt, homesick… this was never our natural state, our true inheritance… we should not be here…”

While walking around the Circular Key area of Sydney Harbour, I was struck by the disconnect between the crowds of people going about their current-day activities and the deep timelines of the area. Despite the urban infrastructure largely obliterating so much of what, and who, was once there, the power of natural environment remains inescapable, the precariousness of our hold on place seems obvious.

The video footage was shot around Sydney, Melbourne, the Anglesea region of the Victorian coast, Adelaide, the Flinders Ranges, and the coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Many of the scenes were composited and animated from multiple sources. In the face of one of the driest and hottest years on record, the transition from flood to fire seemed to be a fitting visual metaphor to complement the text. Despite the warnings, I doubt many of us expected the reality to be as devastating as it has turned out to be.

•  published in Verity La (February, 2020);
•  screened at Lyra ’20: Bristol Poetry Festival – Poetry and Climate (UK, March, 2020).

Colony Collapse

I am still watching
ghosts, testamentary
farewells sunk amid
sandstone bollards,
grid-lock corroded
moss, black mould,
pale concrete fatigue.

We should not be
here on this clifftop,
feet aquake, unsteady
with rising damp,
eyes rimed with salt
flung from shoulders
of mariners’ wives.

Homesick, addled,
stricken by virus,
we push for oxygen
though iron web
duplicity, dodge
the fierce splayed
gid of gunpowder.

Below jack hammer,
bulldozer, piledriver,
listen to us scratch,
our scour and scrape,
in our patient, almost
there, underearth of
tactical withdrawal.

This was never
our natural state:
we can only wait
for oceans’ ebb
to countermand,
to birth again our
true inheritance.

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