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January 2014, vol 9, no 4

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Jonathan McKeown


There’s a track I walk regularly. It leads through a little strip of bush land, beside a quiet creek that surprisingly few people frequent. I usually walk it early in the morning or in the late afternoon, some days both. The sense now that I am known to those who dwell there, that I am free to enter and pass through the realm of their society is part of the privilege

bush hermitage three legs from the leaf scroll

But I love the track itself that has somehow found a way through the bush and become the constant companion of the creek. At one place another track branches off, which is less trodden. It turns up a hill, at the top of which one can see almost the full circle of horizon beyond the scaled skin of houses that cover the enormous bodies of suburban hills

winter sunset whose canvas is the sky

Almost always, though less so of late, I’m inclined to go off the main track. I part the thin curtain of leaves that continually close over this little trail’s entrance, before beginning to climb the impeccable staircase woven of sandstone and tree-root, scuffed and polished as they are. In this way not one tread is made the same as the last. One cannot step the same twice without stumbling on some unique irregularity. I’ve climbed these stairs so many times, and on moonless nights fancy I’ve all but learnt them by heart. In places the sandstone treads are worn down to raw ochre in slight hollows – by my footsteps too – after those that have gone before, before those that will come.... Near the top I recall the lovers of Rilke’s ninth elegy: Threshold: what it means to them, wearing down the ancient doorsill, lightly, a little more

the sound of my heart beating flat-out on a stone