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).

Other Poems from The Full Dress

David Hockney: A diver, Paper pool 17


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 logic—since 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.


© Copyright 2017 Les Murray. All rights reserved.<http://www.lesmurray.org>