India Flint

my father never travelled in straight lines
unless he was in the air
carefully calculating route and fuel, trimming his craft just so
flying point to point like a parched sheep
making for the nearest waterhole

on the ground he would walk the land, pacing slow
stopping to study the view, resting hands on trunks
lying back on a warm smear of stone to study the passing clouds before
buttoning the boiler suit, stuffing cotton wool into his ears
and revving the ride-on mower

the depth of his satisfaction in this small green dragon
mystified me as he rattled off to shave scars into paddocks
slicing them between fat rocks clustered in smug communion
drizzling paths around hills like maple syrup over porridge
weaving in and out of trees leaving ogmographic trails in his wake
a new map drawn each season, cross-hatched by hoof-carved
sheep trails faithful in their constancy

for a few years after he passed the mower sat idle,
tides of spring grasses ebbing and flowing unremarked until one day
missing him, I clean the spark plug, change the oil
give the beast a revivifying draught of its favourite tipple
and coax it back to grumbling life

steering as a tentative helmsman on an icebreaker
into the hip-high sea of dew-beaded haying grass
I drink in the scent of a hundred suburban Sundays as the blades grumble
chewing and spitting and chewing and spitting
while around me the magpies swoop and warble
feasting on disturbed insects and traumatized worms

I thread my way slowly through a copse of lemon gums
stitch serpentine trails around beloved boulders
halt, dismount and kick out a thistle
look back to see a flock of sheep
nibbling their way shoulder to shoulder along
shivering green shoots blinking in the bright sunshine
resting across the land like a velvet ribbon

and then I see
Pa was a poet too