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Poem: A Flock of Artists Descends on Warren Gorge

Books & Poetry

For today’s Poet’s Corner contribution, Sharon Foulkes finds inspiration in the visitors who flock to feed on beauty, en plein air.

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A Flock of Artists Descends on Warren Gorge

Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Out here, a drought is breaking.

From their neat gardens,
their empty nests,
their crammed boxes
they’ve felt it –
the mysterious call to take wing.

And now the gorge is teeming with life.

Drive slowly around the corner
where suddenly great walls rise up on end
like ancient volumes on a giant’s bookshelf
weathered and overgrown.

You’ll know them by their plumage,
brighter than the common winter camper:
orange pants, jackets of indigo, vermillion,
cap or scarf in cobalt blue.

Here in the deeper stillness
you might spot them –
nestled near rocks and bushes by the creek,
or perched on folding chairs –
busy scratching in sketch-books
or pecking at their palettes.

They’ve come to feed on beauty, en plein air.

Kindred of the bower-bird,
their eager eyes seek out the vibrant hues:
the purple in the shadows,
bark-silver, sapphire sky.

While others, distant cousins
of the lyrebird perhaps,
mix their greens and greys and ochres
until their canvases sing true.

Wonder hatches in texture of crack and crevice,
spirits soar from twisted trees high up and
firmly rooted in the impossible.

Perhaps these seeds they carry back
will find a fertile fissure in the concrete.

Their bus driver, meanwhile –
an hour’s “constant twittering”
still ringing in his head –
sets a chair beneath a solitary tree
and reads a book, in peace.

Sharon Foulkes, living in Whyalla since 1989, is a relief teacher based at Whyalla Town Primary School. Her poems have appeared in Whyalla Writers Group/Port Augusta Writers publications, as well as several other Australian journals and anthologies. She was the winner of the Eyre Writers Group 2017 Tom Black Memorial Award, and has been a Friendly Street Poets Poem of the Month recipient. Her first collection, ‘Finding Their Voices’, was one of the three published in Friendly Street’s ‘New Poets 20’ in 2019. More of Sharon and her work can be found here.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.


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