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.