A gapped circle of colonies
each staring at the ocean
through a glass plaid of imports.

Inland lies the still uncrowded
heartland once of steamboats and drawl,
now half desert, half freshwater province. 

There the Murray descends its seven thousand
feet off the Pilot, zigzags over the plains,
forest and furrow, towards an outfall wash.

Shallow rivers connect to this one, or slant north
where the dragon Ceratodus grunts in ivory mail
and streets are shaded in peppercorn and willow.

Having monstered tribesfolk,
dressed POWs in maroon,
it now flickers dials, or pipes experienced water

onto rice, onto cotton, on to Adelaide,
Western rivers merge down the Darling
above the flint blade

and reburied bones of the Warrior
as snow wind chills the saltbush
down from seven thousand feet.

“The Inland Food Bowl” from CONTINUOUS CREATION: LAST POEMS by Les Murray. Copyright © 2022 by Valerie Murray. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All Rights Reserved.