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“Hello, I’m Rachael Mead and today I’ll be reading a poem from my poetry manuscript The Sixth Creek. The poem is called:
Anthropologist at the ceremony
The tree hangs in the valley,
a teacher leaning over a student’s shoulder.
Climbing out even a few feet
the ground swings away, distracted.
The trunk is fat and taut
making the sound of plapping
your palm on the warm belly
of a sleeping dog.
And once you are out there, suspended
amongst the clumps of eucalypt leaves
the tree holds out to the valley
like bridal bouquets,
you are above yet still of the vale,
privileged but connected,
the honoured guest,
the anthropologist invited to the ceremony.
Time is counted in the ticking of grass seeds,
you eavesdrop on the conversations of bees,
that congenial hum like the gossip of grandmothers
heard through a window on cards night.
Finches spark, the brown snake
recharges its coil, two existences
geared to travel the same day
at different speeds.
You lie, heart pressed to the trunk,
lungs and leaves partnered
in an intricate quadrille,
listening to the birds tuning their instruments,
able only to watch but never to know,
and in the breathing, the stillness,
imagine and find content
in the knowing but not the sense of kin.
The stars wheel out, the moon
who has seen everything, wonders anew
at the opacity of these familiar beings,
another anthropologist opening a notebook.
ABOUT RACHAEL MEAD:
Rachael Mead is an Adelaide Hills poet currently juggling a Ph.D at the University of Adelaide and managing a second-hand bookshop. She lives on a small property with her husband, animals and a ridiculously large collection of op-shop overcoats.
“I spent three weeks at Varuna in 2011 when I was awarded the Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship for Poetry. My chapbook manuscript Choosing Wallpaper with Virginia Woolf was shortlisted for publication by Varuna and Picaro Press in 2010.” Rachael Mead
Rchael has been published in various journals such as Westerly, Going Down Swinging, Verandah and Poetrix and has work forthcoming in Meanjin and Four W.
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