The way spirit tracks, in brushstrokes or words, you’d have Buckley’s
of getting it right, sensing how out here light does not fall. Waves of images
fill you so there’s nothing but to paint, though you don’t like it, this country
that’s in you, the red dust coating everything in one place or the granite now,
beneath your feet an island, quartz and feldspar cooled beneath an ocean
millions of years departed before your arrival.The wattle an edged blur in distance,
melancholy of the sheoaks weird, almost human with arms languorous,
supine to a brutality of light that in another language might be what is.
Gusts gathering yellow sands, slow erosion, there is no foreground, no back,
harlequin mistletoe, cherry ballart, the rock before you holding light
sings like everything else here, a silence you seek out the heart of.
So you work ten canvases at once though there’s no focal point, no cathedral
to wash time across, to track the changing planes of day, to assure meaning, only
what is built out of winds and dust and rock and song now half-heard, half-dead,
unlearnt names scattered on a map. The idea of elsewhere you leave behind
or end up like one of those figures in a landscape pointing the way ahead,
to something picturesque beyond the frame, the perspective warped
by some new Eden, some ancient Arcadia waiting to be plundered,a lie
like the emptiness gathered and named and transported here to build on.
Your eyes trace the line of scrub, manna gums and yellow gums scrimshawing
landscape, red gums sketch out a vertical line like a man practicing his whole life
to say a single word, finding his bearings in a place he can only come to slowly.
Crossing the lava, basalt, time uncovers you, uncovers land, an aspect of light
so what you abstract is not self, not place, not moment but all these spoken
by marks, scars in a greater shared immensity, a flat dun coloured space,
a stillness where the delusions of horizon have been erased, skins
peeled back,as if death could be cast off, its flesh left to dry in sun, and time
curved on itself, a husk.You watch in tongues of light, listening with eyes,
unearthing spirit amongst boneseed and sundew, perhaps love,
in daubs of skyless light, learning country, speaking it as it speaks you.
Michael Brennan was born in Sydney in 1973. His second collection, Unanimous Night, was released in 2008 by Salt Publishing. His work has been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Italian.