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Amandas Painting

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Written by Les Murray

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 In the painting, I'm seated in a shield,
coming home in it up a shadowy river.
It is a small metal boat lined in eggshell and my hands grip the gunwale rims.
I'm a composite bow, tensioning the whole boat, steering it with my gaze.
No oars, no engine, no sails.
I'm propelling the little craft with speech.
The faded rings around the loose bulk shirt are of five lines each, a musical lineation and the shirt is apple-red, soaking in salt birth-sheen more liquid than the river.
My cap is a teal mask pushed back so far that I can pretend it is headgear.
In the middle of the river are cobweb cassowary trees of the South Pacific, and on the far shore rise dark hills of the temperate zone.
To these, at this moment in the painting's growth, my course is slant but my eye is on them.
To relax, to speak European.


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