Lyrebird As Arologie
LYREBIRD AS AROLOGIE
Lyrebird As Arologie
Bundanon Weather Report, August 2022
From your suitcase, unpack a sun. Place it in the mettle of the sky, an endless flag that fills with stars. Cloudless, for now. Know that rain has been here, earlier, by the way mud slops to the underside of your boots. A sound you haven’t heard for many years, living in the suburbs on the west coast of this rock, tarmac and brown. But for now, wipe soles. They will never be clean the whole time you are here. And nor should they be. People tell you to look out for a lyrebird on your walks: a rare weather phenomenon of groundswell song and long storm feathers, trailed behind. That first night, you do not dream of one. Instead, the wombats hold a party in your honour: beneath floorboards, they grunt and rustle. Listen to this other world, mammalian in its midnight tussle. Wake early to find a shower graced the dark: rain tank ASMR. Each plink and plonk, notations on the gutter guard, the rain head, the leaf eater. Hold yourself here for a full five minutes as up-there bruises from black to purple. Magic in the smallest music. That day, walk through bush, how it leans in so close to knit eucalypt shadows across your skin. Marvel at the chasm of burrows, marsupial homes. A municipal string of earth, hollow. Follow river bend. Extend senses into the smallest leaf, the wildest song that a beak is yet to speak. No lyrebirds. Instead, sand: a beach of tiny wonder. You are inside a painting by Arthur. See the rock. See the striation of a paintbrush mark the granite. Salt in the creek. Salt on your cheek. Back at the cottage, kangaroos watch you watching them. Father waits for joeys to catch up, herd them through a gap in the fence. As undulation, they hop into the lush of a paddock. Sun holds. Through keyhole, you listen to birds on the veranda discuss the weather, how it’s particularly delightful, as if someone brought it with them. When it does rain, it is only for a moment, is only when you are distracted. One day you swear you hear a lyrebird, singing a sharp ascension in the foliage beyond, but you have no reference point except for poems. At the desk, write weather reports of another sort: detailed imaginings inspired by life back home. Check BOM for your postcode. They use the word severe followed by thunder and a bolt of lightning. Worry for the two black cats you call kids, but know this concern is unnecessary, how you have caught both staring through glass as the sky echoes with rip, silver yellowing. And still, sun holds. Yet mud keeps on conjuring into the tread of step. A confluence of warm and wet. How it is a form of love, made by the earth to mark us on our walks. When your time here comes to an end, gingerly pluck the orb from the blue, pack it back into the bags you carry with you. On the drive out, bemoan how you didn’t see a lyrebird. And, as if summoned, one runs across the road, small cloud of brown sound, hurried. Sky turns dark. Rain comes pouring down.
Scott-Patrick Mitchell is a queer non-binary poet, writer and educator who lives on Whadjuk Noongar Country in Boorloo, Western Australia. SPM’s work appears in Contemporary Australian Poetry, The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry, Solid Air, Stories of Perth and Going Postal. Their first collection, Clean (Upswell, 2022), is an exploration of their lived experience with addiction and details their recovery and reconnection to family, identity and ecology. Mitchell is also the current recipient of the 2022 Red Room Poetry Fellowship with a project that explores Perth Canyon and West Australian beaches and beach culture.
Bundanon’s annual presentation of environmental research projects and public programs has a decade-long history. In 2022, Siteworks is presenting a family of projects that draw on climate research, critical thinking through contemporary art, creative digital spaces, and Indigenous knowledge and technologies. The starting point for Siteworks 2022 is the concept of the weather report, borrowed to map both environmental and emotional spaces, and chronicle internal and external landscapes.
This expansive program includes a new exhibition, outdoor installations, a laboratorium space for workshops and performances, as well as talks and events over weekends throughout the season. Siteworks 2022 posits the artist as a kind of weather balloon, capturing a collection of reports on our place and our time.
Commissioned by Bundanon; part of the weather station in Bundanon, NSW, Australia.