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.