Measured – Charlotte Clutterbuck

Is a bushel of rice
enough to mark a line
round the 10-square chains of my
lost acre’s wilderness at the end
of Glebe Point Road
or will Handsel-and-Gretel birds
make my attempts at
a perimeter quite pointless?
The bent sickle of time’s compass
has machetéd even the sweaty language
that encompassed our living space –
now maps are marked
in metres, kilometres, decimetres
decimate the measurements.
What do they know of miles
measured with a thousand
and a thousand and a thousand
paces under a colonial sun?
What do these uniform, unvaried concrete blocks
the manicured harbour walks
know of the rough and subtle reds
of the tipsy-tiled lean-to sheds
in the old brickworks near the railway-line
the water-colour record I never got round to painting?
Is there still a last vacant block
on Pennant Hills Road
or has its rods, poles or perches
been uniformed into x sq m
of desirable modern residence?