Cattai Wetlands

You walk a zone of woodland, dense
And shadow-fretted, a slow arc,
And, you imagine, a circumference
Of she-oak, paperbark,

That must eventually complete
Its promise, an unbroken ring,
Surrounding? You proceed on unrushed feet,
Watching and listening.

But no. You happen on a break,
From which, unsigned, a pathway leads,
Right-angled to the course you thought to take,
To water grasses, reeds,

And falling open, like the gap
Within the fabric of the world
Mystics bear witness to, though on no map,
Before your eyes unfurled,

A lake of waterlilies, spread
At the day’s heart, to keep the day.
The floating light of noon, distributed
And clinging to delay

What used to pass for time, makes clear
The shallows at your feet, and adds
Lustres that intermittently appear
Among the lily pads.

A fantail seems to pause and flare,
A rufous snapshot on the sky,
And like a jewel fastened to midair,
Hovers a dragonfly.

Watching the light stretched membrane-still,
Midday on hold, you acquiesce,
And feel a—what?—an empty presence fill
Your unclaimed consciousness.

Black swans in languid ones and twos
Continually patrol their realm,
Like stewards, bending down to strain the ooze
Or from the surface film

Skim slime and delicately sift
Blown smuts of matter that begrime
The sheen, as though the air in tainted drift
Shed the rank spores of time.

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

Photograph: Václav Mach, Cattai Wetlands.