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A ribbon of morning-lit glitter reaches the rocks
through the sweep of sea from the horizon, out
near the edge of the Sydney Basin. That hole

into which all manner of debris fell after
the Great Dying. I recall the vista of blue
from the jagged peak of Mt Tomaree, finding

islands in the sun, a Gould’s petrel flying
below and that rush of feeling, though you
weren’t there. Sandstone I’m sitting on now

is two-fifty-two million years old; I’m learning
from a geologist on the move, his arms wide
with the verve of this ancient story: of river

energies, flood plains and sediment brought
down. Images of swamped land have inundated
our screens, of water draining south, no longer

to forests of Glossopteris, that Gondwanan seed-
bearer. Now I know it took ten thousand years
to form a metre of coal, dark driver of change.

He’s showing the group pumice from the under-
sea explosion only a dozen years ago. And he’s
reading an overhang like a book he’s learnt

by heart. I think of you, our different ways,
as he points to cross-beds and current flow,
bands of varied sizes and aquifer water under

pressure. We’re soon to find iron-rich fossilised
trunks lying willy-nilly, but I’m stuck on tension
between plates or any-two-things close like

you and me, and the stresses of our years,
scant stuff on the earth’s clock, yet here we are
by a graceful force, having scaled any upheavals.

Listen to Kathryn read the poem: