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This poem is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

Physiognomy on the Savage Manning River Les A. Murray

Walking on that early shore, in our bodies,
the autumn ocean has become wasp-waisted:
a scraped timber mansion hung in showering
ropework is crabbing on the tide's flood,
swarming, sway, and shouting,
entering the rivermouth over the speedy bar.

As it calms into the river, the Tahitian
helmsman, a pipe-smoking archer,
draws and tightens the wheel. The spruce captain
meanwhile celebrates the bohême of revolutions
with a paper cigarette, and the carpenter,
deepwater man, combs his sulky boy's hair.

Seo abhainn mar loch - the polished river is indeed
like a loch, without flow, clear to the rainforest islands
and the Highland immigrants on deck, remarking it
keep a hand, or a foot, on their bundles and nail-kegs.
...


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