Luke Fischer


Black Cockatoos

A farmer told me once (when I was twelve)
that black cockatoos were a sign of rain,
which made me wonder where they hid
on sunny days. I remember this
as I stroll a trail under a grey sky
that starts to spit, and surprise about
thirty of them congregated in a single tree,
clustered like large dark fruits. They seem
unrelated to their white raucous brothers
as they move discreetly and barely
make a sound—like an audience absorbed
in a song, a concentrated cumulus.



Inhabiting the periphery of attention
like a mother chopping carrots in the kitchen
or a child giggling in a neighbouring room,
they lend the levity of a frond lifted on wind
as we stroll by bent to some concern.

One with the thickets and the dirty path
they hop about our feet like animate dust.
Their voices are insignificant
to the measures of politics, indifferent
as the beggar with a cardboard sign
whose life has been forgotten
except by life itself.

Is it enough that, from an aerial prospect,
hairs are numbered? With two sticks dimpling a can,
a man in the metro kneads rhythm into morning
while a river of commuters channels on.

And what about the ravaged,
whose screams are punctured by bullets
and muted by pillowed ears—multiplying
the refugees of heaven? Is it true
that serendipitous rays which lighten
a walk, an idea, a painter’s strokes,
often stem from the unspent vigour
of sunflowers severed in spring?

Far from the town I halt
and notice a twig-brown body the shape of an egg,
sipping a puddle, twitching its slight
wings, where a drop lingers
a moment unbroken:
a delicate capsule
of sun.



as the waitress takes my empty cup
we surprise each other
an icon on a chapel wall
glimpsed in a candle’s



Luke Fischer is a Sydney-based poet and scholar. His publications include the poetry collection Paths of Flight (Black Pepper, 2013), a monograph on Rilke and phenomenology (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2015), articles on the philosophical significance of poetry and art, and a book of bedtime stories (The Blue Forest, 2014). He won the 2012 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize and was commended in the 2013 Anne Elder Award for a first book of poems. In 2008 he was awarded a PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney. He has held post-doctoral fellowships and taught at universities in the U.S. and Germany.