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September 30th 2010 print

Les Murray

The Canonization; Inspecting the Rivermouth

 The Canonization

Rome, 17 October 2010

Mary MacKillop, born 1842,

what are the clergy giving you

on my birthday, Mother Mary?

Sainthood? So long after God did?

Independence? You’re your own Scot.

The job of Australian icon?

Well, black flies in the buggy.

Bush pianos. The cheek-sawing wimple:

in summer: you did do local penance.

Your vow to “educate poor children”—

might you now say “to heal

the education of poor children”?

Who says a woman can’t rise

in the Church? None, among

you holy ones in the prayer traffic.

 

Inspecting the Rivermouth

 

Drove up to Hahndorf:

boiled lamb hock, great scoff!

Lamplit rain incessant.

Next morning to the Murray mouth,

reed-wrapped bottlings of view

grigio and verdelho.

Saw careers from the steep bridge

and the steel houses it threw

all over Hindmarsh Island,

the barrages de richesse,

film culture, horseradish farms,

steamboats kneading heron-blue

lake, the river again full.

Upstream the iron cattle bridge.

So. Then a thousand miles

home across green lawn.