Les Murray wrote a poem with 18 stanzas, but I am sharing only a third of them here. It is a rambling catalogue of summer gardening memories, and after this first portion my mind balks at following his wandering; I want to rest here in the shade, where I can be philosophic and civilized. The thing the poet wants to cultivate under the glaring sun Down Under is not any kind of vegetable or flower, but the shade itself.
I wish I could trade some of my own backyard shade for his extra sunshine, but how do you measure that kind of stuff? What I have to trade might not add up to much in total mass of shade… I’m guessing enough for a couple of rogueing cows.
(From) ROOMS of the SKETCH GARDEN
Women made the gardens, in my world,
cottage style full-sun fanfares
netting-fenced, of tablecloth colours.
Shade is what I first tried to grow
one fence in from jealous pasture,
shade, which cattle rogueing into
or let into, could devour
and not hurt much. Shelter from glare
it rests their big eyes, and rests in them.
A graphite-toned background of air
it features red, focusses yellow.
Blue diffusing through it rings the firebell.
Shade makes colours loom and be thoughtful.
It has the afterlife atmosphere
but also the philosophic stone cool.
It is both day and night civilized,
the colour of reading, the tone
of inside, and of inside the mind.