Thursday, 31 January 2013


Before you founded Eden, you were a one fingered private from the fourth battalion killing Nips in the jungle, and each Nip you killed bled colours into your lapel of glorious royal green and silver and red and gold and the blue of your eyes which cried clear teardrops into the mud that swallowed the faces of men so that he died alone with his eyes closed and his lips pressed lovingly against hers until he is sodomised by a bayonet and the mud drains through the plug hole in his back until the final gurgle of his throat proclaims all of the lessons and miracles of enlightenment, the poor soul, carrying a burden heavier than a lee enfield while your feet lick feebly at the mud until you are ready to follow your muddy footsteps back from Papua to Melbourne and the clean carpet which the government rolls out in you honour leads you down a corridor of grey wallpaper until the carpet turns to gravel and the gravel turns to mud and the mud dries and the rabbits dig their holes in thin drays to ratchet your square of departmentally issued Mallee scrub by the highway which runs to both sides of your eyes: Up to where the silhouette of a grain silo blemishes the line of the horizon and Down to where the scrub stretches its spindly limbs high into the empty sky and lone clouds wonder as lost sheep, and you stop tending the rabbit holes to watch their shadows passing freely over the wire fence that you had thrust into the soil along the line on the Government’s map of the empty blue sky, the blue of your eyes which are parched and dry and follow the trail of strawberry seeds back along the rabbit holes to your shack where the great irrigators rest in the tin hanger like buffalo on the plain, walking up and walking down pissing life and mud through the mornings until fat bloody strawberries, like the hearts of men, rise from the mud and fall into your basket and the basket into punnets and punnets into the shed you found, hot and flyblown and reeking with a gut full of maggots and rusting drums of peroxide that give each strawberry a bloody glaze found only in Eden, dropped by lost clouds into plastic punnets for two bob a kilo from large wooden trays built from the twisted Mallee scrub under an abandoned sheet metal bus shelter by the asphalt catwalk of utes and paddock bashers going from Up to Down to Up to slow their tread to a stop then leap down from their carpets somewhere between the silo and the horizon at a paper sign waving furiously in the borderless winds and screaming ‘Garden of Eden Strawberries’ into the dusty gale where the buffalo and the rabbits are locked as zoo beasts behind the wire staff and you stand bearing the smile you learnt from the scantily clad harlot on the cigarette box and a genial greeting of “hello sir, I have tended the government’s garden well and the lord has rewarded me with strawberries that taste of God’s own blood” and the stranger takes the fruit between his fingers so that he marks his fingertips in the peroxide glaze, and then the stranger takes the fruit between his lips which fall into a smile and dribble juice down his chin and he tells you of his boundless fortune in discovering your oasis in the Mallee scrub and you smile as he leaves you with several gold coins and the joy which beats in your chest for the knowledge that you have made a man happy and as you wait at the bus stop in the afternoon, cars come by like lost clouds and their vampire smiles continue towards the horizon until the sun is punctured by the silo and you return to your fibro shack to eat war rations of stale bread and butter then sleep in confidence that a new sun will arrive soon to follow the old and in its light the buffalo will rise and piss soil into mud and by the afternoon men will disembark from their lost sheep with tales coming from Up and Down of the scrub swallowing rams with their jockeys slumped against the steering wheel smiling while the sun drapes down their faces and a new sun the next day and again and again the smiling men with bloodied chins leave you under the sky with a smile on your face reminding you that you have created something so precious and beautiful that it makes a man happy and content in their own death, so you wait behind the strawberry trays on a rusty banana lounge beneath the bus shelter through the empty silences that sing the same tune as the Papuan jungle until a flurry of noise (from the distance; from close by) leads to an exchange and you keep the lee enfield propped up against the bus shelter to calm some fear you remember from before you started dealing in joy but in the silences you find some discomfort as you watch the rotation of the silo’s shadow and question what lies within its shell that it should be a pulse to blemish the flat horizon so you bargain with a Model T to take you there and your hair pulls backward as the vehicle pushes forward and the scrub circles in from all sides and it is crawling with Nips who want to push your face into the copper dust and piss in your hair until you become lost in the mud and the bamboo shoots sprout through your chest, your mouth and splay branches of strawberries as full and as red as your heart should be if only you could see it and you are marooned by the highway with your legs twisted and splaying beneath the soil until you are plucked by the vampire teeth of a passing car and dropped at the foot of the silo which is as empty as the sky had told you it would be and you wonder where the other soldiers went when they stepped off the carpet into the scrub if they are not beneath the dome of the horizon which swallows each sun and vomits a new orb into the sky to awake the buffalo each morning but the peroxide tins are almost empty and you don’t know where to get more so you ask a smiling vampire that afternoon what there is when you reach Up and he tells you it is the town of Rainbow and you ask him what is there and he tells you it is nothing of interest and he doesn’t think they have stocked peroxide since the war ended; so you ask the next handful of coins what is Down and he tells you it is the town of Rainbow which you clarify to be the same Rainbow as before but the cars continue to strut by along the catwalk from Rainbow to Rainbow, exchanging coins for joy before continuing towards nothing of interest, not even the peroxide which you empty onto your final punnet of strawberries then sit by the road beneath the bus stop and wait for a car to come and take your final smiling mouthful of joy a little bit closer towards nothing of interest and you feel as empty inside as the horizons around you where the buffalo and the rabbits are still and the silo stares at you and you stare back with the strawberry between your lips and a smile on your face as you lean your back against the bus stop, hold the lee enfield in your finger and take pot shots at the sun.

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