The farmer’s pressing oil, olives spread
on mashing mats. We talk of chooks
and foxes, irrigation and bush fires.
I’m here to see ruins in meadows,
on outcrops, brought from sheds
and yards, lashed to utes and trucks.
‘All good things return to earth.’
She tells how a choral hum is raised
by strong wind, how possums nest in felt
and termites engineer collapse; how once
after rain, a derelict played like a pianola
as green tree frogs leapt in its heart.
I take her hand-drawn map, find
a Gold Rush era upright, laminate
blistered, keys jammed and gapped.
Despite its barroom look
a brass plaque by the keyboard
names an outback orphanage.
A Foley artist’s dream, felt-less hammers
conjure horror from bass notes, or tap
a level crossing where the hero speeds
to make the gate. Each instrument
decays uniquely; a baby grand is legless,
veneer peeled like cherry bark.
Under cracked coffin-gloss
a clutch of white eggs.
Roy Marshall (UK)
From The Sun Bathers (Shoestring Press 2013)
Read more about the piano graveyard here