Poems from The Full Dress
"Cave Divers near Mount Gambier" first appeared in Dog Fox Field (see Bibliography). "A diver, Paper pool 17" is by David Hockney, 1978 (detail: click to see full painting).
Cave Divers near Mount Gambier
Chenille-skinned people are counting under the countryside
on resurrections by truck light off among the pines.
Here in the first paddocks, where winter comes ashore,
mild duckweed ponds are skylights of a filled kingdom
and what their gaze absorbs may float up districts away.
White men with scorches of hair approach that water,
zip into black, upturn large flap feet and free-fall
away, their mouths crammed full. Crystalline polyps
of their breathing blossom for a while, as they disturb
algal screens, extinct kangaroos, eels of liquorice colour
then, with the portable greening stars they carry under,
these vanish, as the divers undergo tight anti-births
into the vaults and profound domes of the limestone.
Here, approaching the heart of the poem they embody
and thereby make the gliding cavern-world embody,
they have to keep time with themselves, and be dull often
with its daylight logicsince to dream it fully
might leave them asprawl on the void clang of their tanks,
their faceplates glazing an unfocused dreadful portrait
at the apex of a steeple that does not reach the day.