31 Oc­to­ber 2006

The London Magazine - - FRIEDA HUGHES & JOHN KINSELLA -

Dear Frieda

Mu­sic doesn’t al­ways help among the trees. The singing wire hits wrong notes with ev­ery barb, and birds don’t sing they speak. I for­get my past. I don’t have me­moir in me: I reckon peo­ple are look­ing down from the Dy­ott Range as if they care. I know they don’t. Saw the mi­gra­tory Rain­bow bee-eater in an aca­cia and al­most burst out of my con­tain­ment pol­icy. Isn’t vi­sion parochial? Each evening I watch the halo peo­ple emerge from the crops, al­most dried off – a few weeks un­til har­vest. My brother is shear­ing and has seen the halo peo­ple up on Glen­garry Sta­tion – neat white build­ings with gun slits in the wall – birth­place of Edith Cowan – first woman elected to an Aus­tralian par­lia­ment – found­ing mem­ber of the Kar­rakatta Club with its push for women’s suf­frage – gun­slits in walls fac­ing the bush, from where na­tives might come - women, men, chil­dren... where the halo peo­ple con­gre­gate. Lo­cust hop­pers are ready­ing to fly. The state is spend­ing mil­lions erad­i­cat­ing them. The whole wheat­belt is be­ing doused in poi­son. Each week the depart­ment re­ports the hec­tarage they’ve knocked off. Treated. When lo­custs fly,

watch out green­ery. They’ll pass straight through the halo peo­ple, who’ll barely no­tice, be­ing used to mono­cul­ture. The notes – the mu­sic – dis­as­sem­ble. Gravel spread like rib­bons – ag­gra­vates wheels, axles. The jolts blur con­ver­sa­tions of fer­til­ity data. Drought has brought the yield right down. Crit­i­cal. Like weather be­ing hal­lu­ci­na­tion: sets, sub­sets, of its own om­ni­science? Any­way, it’s just a mood I’m try­ing to get across – to side­step and re­lay. The skies at night are clearer than you’d ex­pect, and eco­nomics keeps the district in check. I lis­ten out­side the mu­sic, the bootscoot­ers kick­ing up a din on the town hall floor­boards, halo peo­ple peer­ing in from the dark.



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