‘Walking the Bibbulmun’
3.3.2 (23) (Walking the Bibbulmun Track)
How do you map that point when only one more, one more
step to feel you’ve walked beyond the reaches of ownership?
This not yours, and no sign to know those marks tracked
like concrete in the mud which might belong to yesterday
or to aeons look at a scratch on one arm and
think (hope) that it might scar, so as to claim yourself
a possession of that inflicting branch and some minute
particle changed, altered in your presence. Your
ears will turn to catch a scrap of voice, thread-worn and
born of the little wind, none are in sight. You lose
the path, flagged along Allen Rd. by a man in a ute
one arm out the open window, a chainsaw and a jerry
in the tray, climb a hill you needn’t have to look back down
his dust. The markers turn their faces from you. Trace
steps back, jump a ditch to find them and follow, chastised
until they relent offer you the stream, the boulders, clear
water. Eat chocolate, perch on warm rock, wash your hands
and face. Minutes later, five runners like an apparition,
‘Walking the Bibbulmun’
6.9.6 (37) (Reaching Mt Dale)
Summiting: we are jubilant, a champagne moment
light like bubbles, the golden hour conspiring
with giddy fatigue. Ignore the hitch-hiking, your
manifestation as our rescue, our lift home, ignore
that you drove us this last stretch. A summit marks
the closure, traversal complete. We paused
600 metres back and failed to light a fire for tea –
not a moment for hot drinks, apparently.
But now we toast the horizon
with the yellow powerade you brought,
worried for our hydration. The silliness makes us smile,
before, looking out, it dissolves just as quickly
that gasp of waking in the night, or coming down.
We can know nothing of this at all. We might tally kilometres,
count each day, but it is synthetic, no measure.
No measure could be made. Even the sublime is a narrative.
What could we imagine of this? Complicit, every step,
lines on paper working to sustain us –
borders, paths, policies, law all bent to our being
in this place. Look back. Notice absence in cooling air, mark
the blurring line of track, receding in the dusk. Every and every
step, breathless. What are we to this? And
it is beautiful, beautiful.
Catherine Noske is a lecturer in Creative Writing and editor of Westerly Magazine at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on contemporary Australian writing of place, with a particular interest in white Australian positionality and transnational structures of place-making. As a postgraduate, she was awarded the A.D. Hope Prize for work in this area. Alongside editing Westerly, she has been a judge for the ALS Gold Medal, the WA Premier’s Book Prize and the TAG Hungerford Prize. She is a board member for writingWA and A Maze of Story. She has twice been awarded the Elyne Mitchell Prize for Rural Women Writers, has received a Varuna fellowship and was shortlisted for the 2015 Dorothy Hewett Award. Most recently, she was second in the Margaret River Press Short Story Competition. Her writing has been published in literary magazines and scholarly journals both in Australia and internationally. Her first novel is forthcoming with Picador.