The Meaning of Agriculture

Garry Gillard

For Penny Lane, Birregurra

You plant lemon trees in the orchard
and herbs in the kitchen garden.
The driveway goes right round your house.
You stand on the last spur of land
before the white man came. In spring
the four trees are as they are in winter.
They are there a generation before yours.

This is the meaning of agriculture:
separation of what can be eaten
from what is only dreamt. You stand
under the pines on the line between
use and ornament.

The river below involves you in its difficult
floodplain. A cow looks over a fence.
Again your spade goes in, turns out
the undesired growths.

At night the blacks come.
Now you are afloat on their dreaming.

First published in Mattoid 9, no. 2, 1980: 29,
this is the only poem I've ever had published in print.


Garry Gillard | New: 9 November, 2011 | Now: 11 November, 2016