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    Poem: “Open-Air Museum”

    By Stephen Edgar

    January 3, 2023

    Next day then, rising early, we advance,
    Broaching the Hay Plain—morning and the road
    To ourselves alone,
    Or almost, and the hours before us slowed,
    Drawn out, with all that table-flat expanse,

    As though a model of itself, its own
    Life-size exhibit, laid out on display.
    All vacant walls
    And ceiling, day-wide galleries stretch away
    On either side, in which the works are shown.

    So we proceed, passing the open halls:
    Here saltbush; and here, camouflaged between
    Grey clumps, grey sheep;
    Ploughed paddocks, each with its idle farm machine,
    The showpiece that some droll design installs;

    Silos and sheds, like tether points to keep
    In place a space that threatens to float free,
    And hold upright
    A wind-flexed and invisible marquee.
    With expert swoop and hovering, glide and sweep,

    Stationed along the miles, the odd docent kite,
    Lifting out of the roadside grass, or kestrel
    Attends, to teach,
    And body forth, the lore of its ancestral
    Acres of air, then peels off out of sight.

    Then, up from the horizon to the reach
    Of the clear canopy, a countryside,
    A vast terrain
    Of cloud begins to heave in view and slide
    Across the sky, grey, mauve, backlit in peach,

    Quiltings and fibrous hangings overlain
    By intermittent sheens of mother-of-pearl,
    Which propagate
    Impendingly towards us, billow and whorl—
    A rival exhibition above the plain,

    Its airborne counterpart. The road heads straight
    To its still distant western terminus,
    As does the day,
    To the world’s edge perhaps, inducting us
    Into this open-air museum, late

    Additions to its catalogue raisonné.

    Find more poems by Stephen Edgar here and here, and read an interview with the poet.


    Hay Plains, New South Wales, Australia.

    Contributed By portrait of Stephen Edgar Stephen Edgar

    Australian-born poet Stephen Edgar studied Classics and librarianship at the University of Tasmania and lived in London, Great Britain, and Hobart, Australia, before settling in Sydney.

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