Coorong Man

 Wreck Crossing, Coorong South Australia
Wreck Crossing, Coorong South Australia

Across this expanse of lake,
salt hardened and crisp,
you expect to see
emus with their long-legged stride
and other animals whose tracks you’ve seen,
kangaroos, wombats –
honeyeaters and pigeons
because you hear them in the bushes.
And crows fly over the white lake
calling their stark cries.

What you don’t expect to see
is a naked man, tall and loose,
his long limbs walking easily over the lake,
his penis bouncing with his stride.
A dog tags him and you could imagine
they are walking on water
if you weren’t standing
on the hard surface of the lake yourself.
He doesn’t look aside
and you busy yourself
with your easel.
What would you do
if you caught each other’s eye?
Wave?

The prompt today at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is ‘nakedness‘, as a kigo for summer. So one of the first things I thought of was this Coorong poem. I’ve seen lots of lovely natural things while camping but never before a natural man! (and he was lovely!)

We love this part of the Coorong, even though it is usually dry. Or perhaps because it is usually dry. Ervin uses it for his photographs (link here and here) and I wander around photographing and just being awed by the place. We have the best camping spot in amongst tea trees. They are thick, filter the wind and have the most beautiful nooks. Still, oddly, we can’t stay there longer than a few days; we get restless and awkward in our bodies. It’s so beautiful, but you never feel that you can properly rest. Odd.

naked dancing
on the white lake
our moon shadows

Later we found out that it was a perigee moon. No wonder it was so bright.

27 thoughts on “Coorong Man

  1. that was terrific – how strange to see a naked man crossing the Coorong but then maybe not – it is a very strange place. I can understand why you can’t camp there for more than a few days. I sometimes find even driving through it can be disturbing. Coincidentally I watched a TV program about the environmental problems there tonight. Sometimes the Coorang feels haunted to me – or even as if the land is grieving the environmental degradation.
    Your haibun is a brilliant response to the Carpe Diem prompt – I love your final haiku.

    1. Yes. There was at least one massacre of aboriginal people along the coorong. Also whalers used to land and rape women. Some whites were killed too, including a man called Barker who was actually working to know and not degrade the aboriginal way of life. He was mistaken for a whaler.
      As for the degradation of the land, the whole area from Robe north was wetlands. Drains were put in to make the land farmable. And that is why at Wreck Crossing and further up and down the coorong it is dry. Nature has adapted and is still beautiful, but imagine the abundance and diversity that has vanished. I would be sorrowful too if I was the land. I am as a human.
      Thanks for your comment re my writing. 🙂

      1. I didn’t know that about the Robe area. Makes sense when I think about it – the land through there does look like a drained swamp.
        I dreamt of your experience of the naked man last night – very weird. Shows how vivid your writing was. I saw it in full colour in my dreams!
        This piece of writing ties in with your haibun about the bora bora rings – maybe some longer piece of sustained writing is going to emerge from these haibun.

        1. It was an interesting dream – I woke up thinking the man was mad and it was good you hadn’t made eye contact!

  2. Adaptation seems to be what the earth does best, the only true way it can speak to human kind.
    I read about Manhattan Island in NYC and how it used to be quite lush with forest and now the only thing left natural are a few parks. Interestingly enough also about Manhattan is that some of the buildings are not as high because there was, I think at the time only so far one could go down into the bedrock.

    Enchanting and haunting at the same time your Coorong – have they ever thought to restore it?
    I hope to investigate your other links later (in the midst of laundry at the moment).

  3. I very much enjoyed your post. I’m always fascinated by your flashes of Australia, an invitation to a different world – something to dream about! I enjoyed both the long poem and the haiku. Thanks for sharing!

    1. nice to carry a tent with you and not be limited on your wanders. we are not quite that flexible, old bones and distance. we can move quite quickly, but we camp with a vehicle and it’s quite hard to put it in our knapsack!

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