At a Goolmangar acreage on Wijabul/Wia-bul Country, a camphor-laurel
sun-faces. The sky’s lion speaks light day & night. Year-by-slow-year,
day-by-slow-day, growth rings seasonal stories about nearby trees – some
long-gone, some still present, all a community of devotion.
The owner, a carpenter, treads revolutions around the tree’s base.
Head bent in deference, his feet make maps on Country
& intuits camphora secrets: a chair, stool & archway are companions
& have waited eons to reach out & meet the gathered peoples.
He picks a ground-near branch as thick as three forearms
held together & as long as a cathedral spire. His fingers
circle the axe’s handle as questions of angle, curve, slice
& weight are considered. He slants the tool; it glints
the morning air. A deep cut reveals honey-rich hardwood.
Mystery guides this shaper’s fingers. A hand-plane back-pares
roughness; nails sing the hammer’s down-swing.
Timber glows in stacks on the work bench. Inside each length,
the grain beats & flows more than the tree has ever known.
This resonance laces new patterns, new stories to tell,
legends that bind earthly matters to those not of this world.
The wood-carver arranges a steam box: a cooking-pot with a coat-
hanger across the inside. These wires elevate the wood as the steam
of change bends the lengths to archway curves. Later the beams,
plinth & other pieces are blocked together as one deified piece.
In the church, the woodworker & others install the archway,
hammer in the final cogs. A bow of light, deities, devotees
& devils enter this building on Sacred Country.
All this gathered wood resonates with the great old stories
too – every action, every utterance a benediction.
Dust motes like half-remembered sins float the yellow air.
Also a passage of departure, the deities & devotees leave,
but fallen angels, even with wings folded tight,
cannot. For now, they’ll pray in silence.
Will recollecting this knowledge from their ancient
ways activate reverence on Sacred Country?