Saturday, May 22, 2010

V is for valley

(an elongated depression, usually with an outlet,
between uplands, hills or mountains, especially 
one following the course of a stream) Budget
(a low stretch of land between hills, esp. one
that has a river flowing through it) Cobuild

Water has made us.
For eons, for millions of years, 
water dripped, gushed,
surged, swept and gouged.

In our short span, we are left
with a double cupped hand
Werribee and Lerderderg naming
the two arteries through it.

"When we came across it, there was only
a wet land; good hunting but no good
for sheep's feet. We grazed above this boggy
tract, unsuitable for human occupation."
(imaginary diary entry)

A bog on the way to Ballarat, that's
where we were at. You can still see
the track, tracing escarpment's boundary line.
Other roads exist as remnants.

Once the marsh was drained (euphemism
for 'once the two rivers were put in their place,
in deep ditches') it was under attack.
Birds, fish, monotremes and macropods
found refuge in the forests, wetter waters.

Captain Bacchus built a manor house
with a gate house, just like he never had
back home in the Highlands. The crops spread.
Now those crops spring up like immigrants
dazzling with their survival skills. Our gardens
battle their fecundity.

We've had dairy cattle, vegetables, fruit.
We've tracked down the ancient
carbon matter become coal.
We build a town now, above the valley floor
up the escarpments, onto the western
grasslands, the land depraved
by ignorance and being ignored.

We are proud to be not-Melbourne.
The Council will close walking tracks
where once water gouged, swept, surged,
gushed and dripped.
Our twin rivers are clogged with reeds
and shopping trolleys.
We have a cholesterol valley.
We have food but no hunting.
They say platypus can be seen at 4am.

Coming in by train, the valley
offers life in an oasis, with elms not palms,
and the fragrance of water lingers in the air.

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