David Musgrave



Container ships
coming in from the east,
cargo shifting
in sullen swell

hear nothing
from those dirty-white lips
with soot-edged

wings of stone,
on the windswept hill
in attitudes the colour of bone.

They sing no song that cannot be
ignored, not even in the surety
of silence in the cemetery at Waverley.


Freeman’s Reach, Hawkesbury River
for J.W.

Out of the silence, a team of ducks
lands on the river with a whoosh
of compression braking, drowning
out the sound of cattle chewing
on the other bank. From around
the bend a speedboat lamely chugs
upstream, then turns away, its wake
a tightening knot on the river’s stillness.

Unlike the river that matched
a perfect hill, the cross-hatched
mirror now glitters fuzzily.
Poplars quiver like yellow whips.
Bee-racked, rising out of thick grass,
castor-oil plants brandish their pods,
tiny red grenades armed
with green pins. Behind us,
a hill mined by rabbits bares
its guts behind a retaining wall
of chicken wire.
                       Half a rampart,
the ironbark jetty warps over water
and standing at its end, a poet
completely surrounded.



David Musgrave was born in Sydney and educated at Sydney University. After completing a PhD in 1997 he inadvertently began a career in IT where he remains languishing to this day. His first book, To Thalia was published last year by Five Islands Press; his second book, On Reflection is to be published in May 2005 by Interactive Press. His work has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards and prizes including the Henry Lawson Prize for Poetry, The Sidney Nolan Gallery Poetry Prize, The Broadway, Somerset, Newcastle and Bruce Dawe Poetry prizes. He was awarded an emerging writers grant in 2001. Currently he is working on a collection of poems and photographs on the theme of water with his wife, Fiona Robards.