Under a dome of unrelenting blue
we follow a high plateau
littered with spring flowering,
drop into a gully, cross a creek,
wind our way along the sandstone cliff face,
bend beneath overhangs, squeeze
through narrow gaps between boulders
until finally, there it is, a large shaded rock shelf
overlooking a spectacular network of chasms,
sheer sandstone cliffs sunlit in their ancient weathering,
distant waterfall a wind-blown silver thread,
river unspooling through the green grey scrub,
air full of wind sound and bird song.
We drop our packs, sit in the shade.
We think we have this solitary place to ourselves,
until the owner casually drops in
and pokes his diamond head
through a fissure next to an elbow.
He slithers casually over a backpack,
unhurriedly follows our retreating feet,
unfurling his nine feet of glory.
Large of head, diamond flecked,
he carries the beauty of the night sky
along his thickly muscular length.
He moves from person to person,
slowly traverses the overhang
and then, branch by branch,
with long practised ingenuity
hauls his limbless mass up a tree.
The ancient cliffs grow shadows.
We must retrace our steps,
leave this privileged place
but as we go we carry in our packs
a weight of thankfulness for the diamond Python,
for the gift he has given us,
for his beauty, size, grace and power
and especially for his casual indifference
towards we mere puny humans
now struggling and laboring homewards
through his beauty-filled world.
By Neil Creighton
Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It also made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work reflects strong interest in social justice. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Poeming Pigeon, Silver Birch Press, Rat’s Ass Review, Praxis Mag Online, Ekphrastic Review, Social Justice Poetry and Verse-Virtual. He blogs at windofflowers.blogspot.com.au
Photos by the author